By Matt Day
The Seattle Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “As technology giants face scrutiny for their hiring practices, interviews with employees, past and present, help explain why Microsoft has struggled to build a balanced workforce many years after declaring diversity a priority.”
The Seattle Times
In spring 2016, Microsoft was ready to go public with some important data: The company said it had nearly eliminated the gender gap in pay among its employees.
Women made 99.8 cents for every dollar made by men in the same role.
The software giant marshaled a public-relations rollout for the triumphant news, including outreach to the media and an all-employee email.
But at 10:02 p.m. the night before the data was published, a human-resources employee wrote to Gwen Houston, the leader of the Microsoft diversity initiatives, with a warning.
“I expect this to land poorly” the HR manager wrote, citing distrust she was seeing among women at the company when Microsoft discussed its efforts to diversify its workforce. “They’ll look at this as a cover up.”
She was right.
After the announcement, Microsoft’s human-resources chief received dozens of emails from employees picking apart the data. Many said their experiences ran contrary to the upbeat tone of the message. Microsoft, some said, was trying to whitewash a serious gender-discrimination problem that extended beyond pay equity.
The announcement “does not honestly represent us as a company,” wrote one woman, part of a team where men outnumbered women 5-to 1 in its senior ranks.
Another employee wrote: “I’ve seen little change in the day to day inclusiveness of our culture, nor any strategies in action aimed at retaining diverse talent.”
She added, “I am surrounded by men and only men in most of my meetings.”
That is a common refrain among women at the company.
As technology giants face scrutiny for their hiring practices, interviews with employees, past and present, help explain why Microsoft has struggled to build a balanced workforce many years after declaring diversity a priority.