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Microsoft promises black hiring quotas to fight racial injustice


In the name of 'diversity and inclusion'

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As part of a plan for "addressing racial injustice" in America, tech giant Microsoft plans to implement racial hiring quotas and invest tens of millions into diversity efforts over the next five years.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the announcement in an email to employees Tuesday, in which the executive promised that the company's leaders are "committed to take action to help address racial injustice and inequity, and unequivocally believe that Black lives matter."

The CEO then said that the company will "double the number of Black and African American people managers, senior individual contributors, and senior leaders in the United States by 2025."

He added that the company will invest an additional $150 million into its "diversity and inclusion" efforts within that time frame.

Nadella highlighted a coming "cultural transformation" at the company through investment and talent development that will start with black employees and eventually "expand to include other employee groups."

Nadella's three-point outline for accomplishing cultural change (shown below) also appeared to include race-based evaluation in promotion decisions (emphasis added):

We will accelerate our cultural transformation through further investment in inclusion. Managers who have a deep understanding and commitment to building inclusive culture are key to our company's success. Starting in FY21, our training on allyship, covering, and privilege in the workplace will be required for all employees, with additional new content on understanding the experience of the Black and African American community. Because leadership sets the tone, we will have required live sessions for CVPs and EVPs to ensure they better understand the lived experience of these specific communities.

We will strengthen our intentional career planning and talent development efforts. This will apply across our workforce, beginning with Black and African American employees. These programs will expand to include other employee groups as we learn and grow. We will expand on our leadership development programs for select Black and African American midlevel employees and their managers, to help prepare for promotion to Director/Principal. For Director/Principal level, we will create a new development opportunity to expose them to the leadership expectations of the Partner/GM level and match them with senior-level sponsors and mentors. For Partner/GMs, we are continuing to invest in the dedicated leadership development programs.

We will further strengthen company accountability for progress on representation. We will deepen our practice of evaluating each CVP/GM's progress on diversity and inclusion when determining their impact and rewards, as well as promotion considerations. We will provide CVPs with dedicated D&I coaches to confront and resolve systemic obstacles within their organizations. We will expand our global, quarterly promotion process to ensure we build diverse leadership teams at all levels. This will include direct engagement with business leaders on review of all candidates for people management, Director/Principal level, and Partner/GM level.
Microsoft has experienced some internal controversy over its diversity and inclusion hiring practices before.

Quartz reported in 2019 that several employees used the company's internal messaging board to criticize its pro-diversity efforts, alleging that white and Asian males were being discriminated against in the hiring process.

"Does Microsoft have any plans to end the current policy that financially incentivizes discriminatory hiring practices? To be clear, I am referring to the fact that senior leadership is awarded more money if they discriminate against Asians and white men," a post by one Microsoft program manager said, according to Quartz.

"I have an ever-increasing file of white male Microsoft employees who have faced outright and overt discrimination because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male. This is unacceptable," the program manager added in another comment.

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