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Microsoft Improves Representation of Women From Intern Classes to Leadership

Microsoft this year improved its representation of women from the bottom to the top of the company: among its intern classes, in technical roles, and in senior leadership.

“We are starting to see the seeds of the fruit that have been laid over the course of the last four years. We are encouraged by our progress, but we’re super clear that we’re closer to the beginning of this journey than the end,” Microsoft chief diversity officer Lindsay-Rae McIntyre says.

Between June 30, 2017 and June 30, 2018, Microsoft’s global workforce went from 25.5% to 26.6% female. In technical roles, women’s representation grew from 18.5% to 19.9%. Among interns, women went from 40.4% to 42.5% . In leadership, women’s representation increased from 18.8% to 19.7%.

Interestingly, these numbers still represent a decrease from four years ago when Microsoft first began releasing its diversity data, despite the year-over-year bump. In 2015, women made up 27.5% of the company’s workforce compared to the 26.6% number today—a drop Microsoft attributes to its 2016 divestiture of Nokia and the resulting change in its workforce.

This year’s gains are small—and are starting from a low bar—but they are happening across the board.

“It’s really about the full employee lifecycle. There is discipline to look at representation throughout the entirety of the workforce,” McIntyre says.

Most significantly, Microsoft says it has improved representation of black and Latinx employees by 33% over the past four years—although their representation still stands at just 4.1% and 6% respectively among its United States workforce. That falls right in the middle of Microsoft competitors Apple (9% black and 13% Hispanic in 2017) and Google (2.5% black and 3.6% Latinx in 2018).

McIntyre attributes improvements in global gender and U.S. racial diversity to efforts Microsoft has made to improve diversity in hiring and inclusion for its employees who are already at the company. The company made inclusion a “core priority” for all of its employees, meaning employees’ efforts around the issue, from participating in an employee resource group as an ally to attending educational programming, are incorporated into their performance reviews.

In 2016, Microsoft tied a portion of executive compensation to diversity and inclusion goals. The company has also expanded its parental leave policy, improved its unconscious bias training, and last December ended forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims, well before the current crop of tech companies began doing the same.

McInytre only joined Microsoft four months ago, coming to the tech giant from a long career at IBM, and says her primary goal in the new role is to keep progress headed in the right direction. Says McInytre: “Our representation goals are to continue to improve and to get better.”