Microsoft Ties Progress on Diversity to How Much It Pays Workers

(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. is testing several strategies to boost diversity in its workforce amid slow gains in the hiring and retention of women and minorities. The latest: Making inclusion a “core priority” for employees and factoring how well they meet that standard into their compensation package.

“That means employees and managers will have ongoing conversations throughout the year on how every individual at Microsoft can contribute to making us more diverse and more inclusive,” Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Microsoft’s chief diversity officer, said Wednesday in an interview.

McIntyre said there are many “simple things” workers can do to help meet the goal. For example, one could join an employee resource group, participate in one of the software giant’s inclusion trainings, have a candid conversation with peers and managers from underrepresented employees in the workplace or spend time teaching at one of the pipeline organizations the company supports.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has created a financial incentive to increase diversity. In 2016, the Redmond, Washington-based company began tying executive bonuses to workforce diversity goals, following a second consecutive year of declines in the percentage of female employees.

The diversity workforce numbers ticked up slightly this year. Women made up 28 percent of the employees at Microsoft as of June 30, according to data released on Wednesday in Microsoft’s fourth annual diversity report. Black employees were 4 percent of the workforce and Latino workers made up 5.7 percent of the total. The statistics include Microsoft’s LinkedIn unit.

Microsoft’s most senior leaders are still mostly male and white. Of the 15 members on the senior leadership team, there are three women and three racial and ethnic minorities, according to data from the company.

Microsoft also saw modest gains in boosting the percentage of women and black and Latino employees in technical and leadership roles. Some of those increases were as small as a fraction of a percentage point.

McIntyre said while tying inclusion to performance reviews is in its early stages, she has seen enthusiasm from those wanting to participate and widen their knowledge on this topic.

“We will continue to create the drip for employees to be able to connect and engage and learn,” McIntyre said.

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