Microsoft Promises Hiring Quotas to Address ‘Racial Injustice’

The empire strikes back: Microsoft returns to the top of the world

“Black lives matter,” declared Microsoft as part of its promise to implement racial personnel quotas as it works towards “addressing racial injustice.”

On Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared the company’s racial calculus on Microsoft’s official blog. He sent the following information via email to the firm’s employees:

As I shared in our Employee Town Hall last month, and in my email earlier this month, we are committed to take action to help address racial injustice and inequity, and unequivocally believe that Black lives matter. Below you will see many of the steps we are taking.

Over the past several weeks, the senior leadership team, board of directors, and I have spent time reflecting, listening, learning, and discussing what role the company – and all of us collectively – must play in helping to drive change, both within Microsoft and in our communities. With significant input from employees and leaders who are members of the Black and African American community, we have developed a set of actions that we believe are both meaningful to improving the lived experience at Microsoft, as well as driving change in the communities in which we live and work.

Today, we are making commitments to address racial injustice and inequity for the Black and African American community in the United States. We will additionally take important steps to address the needs of other communities, including the Hispanic and Latinx community, across the company in the next five years.

Microsoft “will double the number of Black and African American people managers, senior individual contributors, and senior leaders in the United States by 2025,” wrote Nadella, promising an additional $150 million of “diversity and inclusion investment.”

A “cultural transformation” at Microsoft will begin with black employees, and will continue to “other employee groups,” according to the technology company. Microsoft used the terms “allyship,” privilege,” and “systemic obstacles” in a three-point outline of its new policy:

  1. 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 [corporate vice presidents] and [executive vice presidents] to ensure they better understand the lived experience of these specific communities.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 will “extend [its] vision of societal change throughout [its] ecosystem,” Nadella added, linking the company’s “diversity and inclusion” pursuit to its selection of suppliers and other partners. The company will now examine the racial composition of the owners and employees of companies it considers partnering with.

“A vast business ecosystem surrounds Microsoft from our supply chain to our partner community,” Nadella wrote. “We recognize that a stronger and more productive ecosystem requires better representation of the diversity in our communities. We will evolve our engagement with our supply chain, banking partners, and the broad Microsoft partner ecosystem in this effort.”

Microsoft intends to “double the number of Black- and African American-owned approved suppliers over the next three years and spend an incremental $500 (million) with those existing and new suppliers.” The company will pressure its suppliers to increase “diversity” of their workforces.

Nadella added, “We will create a $100 (million) program that will make its initial investment in collaboration with the FDIC to target Minority Owned Depository Institutions (MDIs), which directly enables an increase of funds into local communities (businesses, restaurants, housing, etc.). And, we will establish a $50 (million) investment fund focused on supporting Black- and African American-owned small businesses.”

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