Microsoft releases diversity stats, says 'much work' still to be done

The firm shares updated stats, showing that it's grown the percentage of women in its overall workforce from 24 percent to 29 percent -- though in tech positions the figure is lower.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley
4 min read

Microsoft Executive Vice President of Human Resources Lisa Brummel. In an email to staff, she says that though progress is being made in diversifying the workforce, there's a lot of work to be done. Mat Hayward/Getty Images
Women now comprise 29 percent of Microsoft's worldwide workforce, up from 24 percent over the past year, according to new figures released by the company.

Microsoft made available new diversity stats and launched a new diversity and inclusion Web site on October 3.

Other new data the company shared today:

  • The number of Microsoft senior executive women and minorities rose from 24 percent to 27 percent in the past year.
  • The percentage of women and minorities on the Microsoft board of directors is up from 33 percent to 40 percent compared with last year.

Microsoft's workforce is currently 60.6 percent Caucasian, 28.9 percent Asian, 5.1 percent Hispanic/Latino, 3.5 percent American/African Black, 1.2 percent multiracial, .5 percent American Indian/Alaskan native and .3 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

When looking at the Microsoft tech (versus nontech) workforce, the percentage of women is a lower 17.1 percent, according to Microsoft's data.

Comparatively, Google's latest diversity data showed its workforce was 30 percent women and 61 percent Caucasian.

Lisa Brummel, Microsoft's executive vice president of human resources, sent an email to all employees to mark the release of the latest information.

Here's her email to all full-time employees:

I've recently received a number of questions from employees due to the increased industry focus on diversity. I want to take this opportunity to share a report on diversity and inclusion at Microsoft with you.

Microsoft has a long history of substantial investment and engagement in promoting diversity and inclusion in our workforce. As part of that commitment, we started sharing data regarding the diversity of our employee population in 1998, and have publicly posted diversity data on www.microsoft.com on a voluntary basis since 2006. We recently updated our data to include our newest employees from Nokia and added additional detail. You can also find our updated diversity data here. As you look at the data, you will see that we are in generally the same position as others in our industry. In our 20+ years of committed efforts toward managing diversity and inclusion effectively, what we've learned is that diversity is not a finite goal that can simply be achieved, then "checked off" a list; it is a journey that requires constant self-assessment and recommitment.

Diversity and inclusion are a business imperative. Diversity needs to be a source of strength and competitive advantage for us. Our customer base is increasingly diverse. As our business evolves to focus more on end-to-end customer experiences, having a diverse employee base will better position Microsoft to anticipate, respond to and serve the needs of the changing marketplace. And representation itself is not enough - we must also create an inclusive work environment that enables us to capitalize on the diverse perspectives, ideas and innovative solutions of our employees.

Over the past year, we made continued progress in increasing the diversity of our workforce and leadership, including:

  • Growing the percentage of women in our global workforce from 24 to 29 percent.
  • Increasing the number of Microsoft senior executive women and minorities from 24 to 27 percent.
  • Raising the percentage of women and minorities on the Microsoft board of directors from 33 to 40 percent.

Have we made progress? Yes, we certainly have, and I am proud of the progress we have made. But we can all agree that much work remains to be done to increase the diversity of our company and the tech industry.

We have a strong history to build upon. We are expanding the pipeline for the next generation of technology leaders through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs like DigiGirlz, Blacks at Microsoft Minority Student Day and our new global Microsoft YouthSpark program. Through these programs, we reached more than 100 million youth with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship. And, for the first time ever, we are now hiring our DigiGirlz as full-time employees, from a talent pool we fostered years ago. This proves the lasting impact of these programs. The pipeline we invested in years ago is now coming back to us - a result every company strives for. It is a slow process, but we are seeing momentum from our efforts.

This is just the beginning of the conversation. In the coming weeks, we will share more information about both new and ongoing strategic investments and partnerships to advance diversity and inclusion at Microsoft and in the tech industry. We will also detail new core priorities for leaders and people managers at Microsoft to make our company the absolute best place to work.


This story originally appeared as "Microsoft: 29 percent of our global workforce is now women" on ZDNet.