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Responding to the OFCCP on our June diversity commitments

By Dev Stahlkopf, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and General Counsel

October 7, 2020

In a spirit of transparency, we want to disclose that Microsoft was contacted last week by the United States Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regarding some of the commitments we made in June to address issues faced by the Black and African American community. Microsoft, like all federal contractors, is subject to several OFCCP requirements, including those with respect to employment practices. Specifically, the OFCCP has focused on whether Microsoft’s commitment to double the number of Black and African American people managers, senior individual contributors and senior leaders in our U.S. workforce by 2025 could constitute unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, which would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

We have every confidence that Microsoft’s diversity initiative complies fully with all U.S. employment laws. We look forward to providing the OFCCP with this information and, if necessary, defending our approach.

To help achieve our diversity goals, in an announcement on June 23 we committed to invest in our business ecosystem and broader communities, and to invest an additional $150 million over five years in our own internal diversity and inclusion programs. As part of this effort, we will also continue our work training managers and strengthening career planning and talent development.

In the letter we received last week, the OFCCP suggested that this initiative “appears to imply that employment action may be taken on the basis of race.” The letter asked us to prove that the actions we are taking to improve opportunities are not illegal race-based decisions.

Emphatically, they are not.

We are clear that the law prohibits us from discriminating on the basis of race. We also have affirmative obligations as a company that serves the federal government to continue to increase the diversity of our workforce, and we take those obligations very seriously. We have decades of experience and know full well how to appropriately create opportunities for people without taking away opportunities from others. Furthermore, we know that we need to focus on creating more opportunity, including through specific programs designed to cast a wide net for talent for whom we can provide careers with Microsoft.

One thing remains true of all our programs. We hire and promote the most qualified person. And nothing we announced in June changes that. Instead, our continued focus is to work hard to consider and develop the broadest range of qualified candidates for opportunities.

As we have said elsewhere, we will:

  • Continue to build the pipeline of diverse talent and begin to build it early, through digital skills and STEM education in elementary through secondary schools, and through internships, scholarships and fellowships
  • Further expand recruitment across a broader range of colleges and universities, including, for example, at historically Black colleges and universities
  • Open new offices to provide economic opportunity in new geographies, such as those that already have been announced in Reston, Va, Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta
  • Continue to create new pathways into the company beyond traditional academic paths
  • Continue to require diverse slates of candidates for roles at the company to ensure we see a broad range of talented candidates
  • Continue to train our employees on inclusive hiring practices
  • Focus on inclusion and retention of our current employees
  • Increase our investment in development programs for employees aspiring to management and senior positions

We believe it is a core part of our mission to make our company, our community and our country a place where people of diverse views and backgrounds are welcomed and can thrive. We know that as a company and a country we have more work to do to expand opportunity. We look forward to helping the OFCCP understand the legality of our programs as we work towards a shared goal of promoting diversity in full conformity with federal law.

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