Microsoft reports progress in diversity, but the numbers do not tell the whole story

  • Microsoft reported modest gains in hiring more women and underrepresented minorities in its first report "Diversity and Inclusion".
  • The company said that a large majority of employees, 88 percent, agreed with statements intended to measure an inclusive workplace. [19659002] Microsoft said that women and underrepresented minorities are paid slightly more than white men in similar roles.
  • Microsoft's workforce is nearly three quarters male and more than half of its employees are white.
  • However, experts said it solved a problem as complex as a lack of diversity in the technology industry requires more than tracking employment. Companies must not take into account how many women and under-represented minorities they employ, but how long these people stay, how they are treated and whether they receive promotions.
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On Tuesday, Microsoft released a report announcing the progress of hiring a more diverse workforce and highlighting payroll performance ̵[ads1]1; but some experts said the positive numbers don't tell the story.

The software giant, in its first official "State of Diversity" and inclusion "report, uncovered gains by hiring several women and underrepresented minorities, including high-paying executives, directors, executives and technical roles. Microsoft also released a new calculation to track inclusion.

In its so-called inclusion index, the company tracks employee responses to questions designed to measure inclusion, such as "I can succeed in my work group while maintaining my own personality and style." Microsoft said 88% of employees responded positively to these questions.

Like most major technology companies, including Google, Facebook and Apple, Microsoft has struggled to get its employees' rank to reflect the diversity of people in the community and among customers. 144,000 employees are nearly three-quarters male and more than half of employees are white.

Microsoft said in its report that it employed 11.6% more female employees globally in the past year, and 17.3% more black employees in the United States.

Microsoft also announced seemingly impressive statistics on payroll, with women and minorities actually earning more than male and white counterparts in similar jobs.

Among Microsoft employees in the United States, the company said that underrepresented minorities earn $ 1,006 per dollar as a white "counterparty" earns at the same job title and level. Women in the United States earn $ 1,001 per dollar that a man earns at the same position and level.

In its six largest markets of employees – the United States, Canada, China, Germany, India and the United Kingdom – Microsoft said that women in the combined area earned $ 99 for every $ 1.00 a man earned.

But Wayne Sutton, an expert in the tech industry, said salary comparisons are not as informative as they may seem since white men still have many more high-paying management positions than employees who are women or underrepresented minorities.

"It should always be a star if management does not reflect an equal representation of their employees or customer base," Sutton said. "You may have paid equity, but you can have a woman, an African American, a Latinx, a LGBT [person] a veterinarian."

"Percentages can mask a whole host of problems"

Microsoft has shared some diversity data since 2014, but this is the first time they have released the index and revealed data specific to roles, including executives, executives and executives. Microsoft's report goes beyond what many technology companies reveal about the diversity of the workforce and reflects an emphasis on workplace culture as well as demographics.

Female Founders Alliance CEO Leslie Feinzaig, whose organization collaborates with Microsoft on a startup accelerator, credited the company for working to improve diversity, but warned against placing too much emphasis on the numbers in the report.

Solving a problem as complex as a lack of diversity in the tech industry requires more than just tracking percentages, she said. Companies need to take into account not only how many women and under-represented minorities they employ, but how long these people stay around, how they are treated and whether they receive promotions.

"Percentages can mask a whole host of problems," Feinzaig said. "Many companies out there are making big, outspoken, expensive efforts to improve the recruitment of women and under-represented employees, but recruiting is not even half the battle if you can't retain people and acquire new leadership. It's basically a vanity improvement that doesn't create a better culture and a better company. "

Sutton emphasized that improving the diversity of the technology industry does not have a quick solution.

As the tech industry began to take into account the lack of diversity, many companies approached the problem by offering diversity training, such as unconscious bias. Now, he said, companies are beginning to understand that solutions are much more complex.

"I hope now companies are looking at how difficult it is to correct years of systematic inequalities in terms of hiring and marketing in technology," he said. . "It will not only be a solution, a workshop, a training – it will take years to correct."

Microsoft declined to comment.

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