After Losing Women, Microsoft Ties Executive Bonuses to Boosting Diversity

Indian Business, Finance And Economy
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For the second year in a row, the share of women employees at Microsoft slipped, this time dropping from 26.8% to 25.8%. Now, the tech behemoth has a new plan to stop—and hopefully reverse—that slide.

The decline in women was due in large part to the company’s May divestment of Nokia handset factories, which had a higher representation of female employees. Outside of that “direct production” unit, the percentage of women at Microsoft actually increased, albeit by only 0.4 percentage points. The company also reported modest gains in racial and ethnic minority hiring. African American representation inched up 0.2 percentage points to 3.7%, while Hispanic representation rose 0.1 percentage points to 5.5%.

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In an effort to give those figures a bigger boost, the Redmond, Washington-based company is rolling out a new program that will tie senior leaders’ compensation to diversity gains in their respective organizations, according to a blog post its chief diversity and inclusion officer Gwen Houston posted Thursday.

In tying bonuses to diversity, Microsoft is taking a page out of the British government’s playbook. Earlier this year, the U.K. Treasury launched a new charter that, among other initiatives, encourages financial firms to connect parts of executive teams’ remuneration packages to gender balance targets as a way to change the male-dominated nature of financial services industry. So far, nearly 100 firms have signed on.

In her blog post, Houston also mentioned other diversity hiring initiatives, including launching a website aimed specifically at attracting diverse talent and an “Inclusive Design” initiative to develop products and technology for audiences of all abilities.

These initiatives reflect the outlook of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who has sought to make the tech giant more inclusive. Bloomberg reports that he talks about diversity efforts at each one of his monthly Q&A sessions with employees. And in recent interviews with Fortune, Nadella expressed his passion for helping build tools and tech for users with disabilities. “I have a particular passion around accessibility, and this is something I spend quite a bit of cycles on,” Nadella said. He has a son with special needs. “One thing is certain in life: All of us will need accessibility tools at some point,” he said.

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