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  • Writer's pictureCarolina MIlanesi

Microsoft Marks 10 Years Of DEI Data With Latest Report

Microsoft has been publishing data on its global workforce demographic for 10 years, and for the fifth year in a row, it has released its annual Diversity and Inclusion Report. The report covers the progress and challenges of the company in creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce and culture, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social justice movements on its employees and communities.


Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Chief Diversity Officer at Microsoft, shared some of the highlights and insights from the report in an interview with me. She said that the company has been investing heavily in manager capability, flexibility, and hybrid work models to support its employees where they are and how they need support. 


Over the past five years, there has been an increase in the representation of women and various racial and ethnic minority groups (including Asian, Black and African American, Hispanic and Latinx, and multiracial employees) at all levels of the Microsoft’s workforce. The company has also maintained or grown representation in leadership roles for women and these minority groups year over year.


In 2023, the representation of women in Executive roles increased to 29.1%, marking a 3.2 percentage point year-over-year growth, the highest among all groups. The number of Black and African American Directors, Partners, and Executives exceeded the 2025 Racial Equity Initiative commitment, rising from 92.0% in 2022 to 107.8%. Similarly, the number of Hispanic and Latinx Directors, Partners, and Executives increased from 57.6% in 2022 to 74.8% of the 2025 commitment.


Several times in my commentary around DEI, I have pointed out that diverse representation at the executive level is critical for acquiring and retaining diverse talent. The "I cannot be, what I cannot see" is the most significant limitation most organizations face in relation to retention, which is why I was delighted to see that McIntyre was recently also given the role of Corporate VP of Talent Development. McIntyre also commented that hiring broadly around the world in the context of hybrid environments has also contributed to progress in representation.


Indeed, as I wrote at the beginning of the pandemic, remote work then and hybrid work now can help with diversity. The level of ethnic and racial diversity in America differs dramatically from state to state. This means that companies in less diverse places might need to recruit from outside the area and expect new employees to relocate. However, new hires might not like the idea of moving to a less diverse place. They might struggle to fit in at work and in the community.


Let's look at the tech sector and Silicon Valley. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2018, Silicon Valley had just over 2 million people, and only 2% were black. If companies relied solely on the local talent pool, the annual diversity reports many publish wouldn't show much progress. Attracting diverse talent from outside the area is also complicated by the high cost of living in tech centers such as the Bay Area and Seattle.

While hiring volume at Microsoft slowed down, hiring representation remained generally equal to or greater than the representation for women and all racial and ethnic minority groups, except for Native American and Alaska Native employees.


Microsoft is committed to pay equity, ensuring employees are paid fairly, considering factors like job title, level, and tenure. As of September 2023, the company reported that all racial and ethnic minority groups within the U.S. and women within and outside the U.S. earn comparable total pay to their counterparts with the same job title, level, and tenure.

Furthermore, Microsoft has been working to reduce the median unadjusted pay gap, which measures pay disparities without considering factors like job title or tenure. The analysis conducted in September 2023 showed progress in narrowing this gap for women in the U.S., women outside the U.S., as well as for Asian, Black and African American, and Hispanic and Latinx employees in the U.S. The company plans to continue increasing representation at senior levels and ensuring pay equity to further reduce these median pay gaps in the future.


For McIntyre, DEI work is a journey focused on learning, listening, and improving, as well as an openness to feedback and collaboration from the company's stakeholders.

Microsoft is making a big investment in Generative AI, and is rolling out its smart agent, Copilot, supporting several aspects of business, including Human Resources. The recently launched Copilot for Dynamics 365 includes ChatGPT Recruiting Assistant's premium feature that helps craft email responses that leverage the integration with Hubdrive Azure OpenAI and Hubdrive Recruiting Solution. 


This is why I was curious to have McIntyre comment on the role that Generative AI will play in her job. McIntyre said: "I personally love the fact that it is a co-pilot, not an auto-pilot, meaning that it is designed to augment human capabilities, not replace them. An AI agent can help the HR function with various tasks to free up space for humans to do what only humans can do."


Inside Microsoft, the diversity and inclusion and talent management team is primarily in an advisory capacity with the engineering teams and the folks building out the technology to thread Microsoft's commitment to diversity and inclusion and leveraging its AI ethics principles in the foundation of its AI-based products. While there is a ton of enthusiasm about how AI can inform DEI strategies, McIntyre also emphasized that AI is not a silver bullet for diversity and inclusion challenges and requires building trust with employees, partnering with employee communities, listening to their feedback, and responding to their needs. 


Also, it is helpful to point out that AI cannot deliver value without data and when it comes to DEI, there are some limits due to the lack of representation and the need for privacy. Microsoft uses voluntary Self-ID to understand its diverse workforce and cater to their needs. Employees can share their identities to help Microsoft create inclusive benefits and programs that align with their life stages and interests. Self-ID is available globally with variations based on local laws and customs, and Microsoft is constantly improving its self-identification options for inclusivity. In particular, Microsoft is now sharing more Self-ID data on Asian sub-identities in the U.S., recognizing the significance of identity. Last year, it expanded options for Asian employees in the U.S. to provide detailed background information. The Asian community is the largest racial and ethnic minority group at Microsoft, comprising over 20 sub-identities. As Microsoft continues to roll out Copilot solutions especially in the HR space I hope it will also help organizations understand the value of self-ID as a way to have a more granular set of data that will inform AI models. 

As Microsoft celebrates a decade of dedication to transparency on DEI, it's clear that its work is more than just a set of initiatives—it is a core part of the company's identity. The strides in representation and pay equity made over the years underscore a commitment to tangible, systemic change. As AI continues to evolve, Microsoft's approach highlights the importance of using technology as a catalyst for human innovation and empathy. With data-driven insights and a willingness to adapt and grow, Microsoft is not just responding to the changing landscape of DEI—it's helping to reshape it for the better. 


Disclosure: The Heart of Tech is a research and consultancy firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this column. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this column.

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