Microsoft’s workforce, like most other big tech companies, is largely white and male. On Wednesday, CEO Satya Nadella promised to change that.
He told investors at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting:
“We are focused on ensuring that Microsoft will be the best place to work for smart, curious people across cultures, genders, ethnicities, and lifestyles. We will make progress every year towards building a more diverse workforce and creating opportunities at every level of the company for all of Microsoft’s employees.”
It’s not an accident that he was talking about this.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the company’s largest shareholder, was sitting in the audience next to Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was given the stage to read remarks asking Microsoft to do a better job hiring minorities.
Jackson isn’t targeting only Microsoft. He’s been out giving speeching imploring the tech industry to up its hiring of minorities, including a talk on Tuesday at the University of Washington, reports Geekwire.
Last month, Jackson also wrote two open letters to Apple and Tim Cook on the topic. And his Rainbow coalition has been successful at getting many big tech companies to release diversity data, Microsoft included.
When it comes to that diversity data, Microsoft, with over 100,000 employee in 190 countries, is pretty typical of the tech industry: Overall its workforce is made up of 71% men and 29% women; they are 60% white, 29% Asian and 11% other races. In technical roles, 83% are men to 17% women, with 57% of them white and 35% Asian. As far as leadership roles, 83% of those roles are held by men and 72% are white.
Nadella is taking this issue on front and center after he stuck is foot in his mouth in October at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. That’s when he at first advised women not to ask for raises. He later clarified, apologised, and rescinded that advice.
Now, he’s vowing to turn Microsoft into a model of diversity in the tech industry. We hope he succeeds.
Here’s Jackson speaking at the meeting while Ballmer looks on.