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Business, Diversity & Inclusion, STEM

Diversity Without Inclusion Is Just a Game of Musical Chairs – Part 1

Sataya Nadella is about to reach a significant milestone in his career next month. Appointed February 4, 2014, the CEO of Microsoft will have served in that position for one full year. This CEO of a corporation that grossed over $22 million in net income last year has been making news, recently, for a number of reasons.

One of those news making topics is the recent announcement by Nadella at Microsoft’s shareholders meeting last month that the company is planning to hire more women and members of historically under-represented groups. For anyone following the news on companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon.com, etc., it is a well-known fact that the workforce of these high-tech companies are mostly white and male.

Nadella also made news for his comment at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing back in October 2014 – when he initially advised women not to ask for raises went viral and not in a good way. He later clarified this statement and apologized if he offended anyone. How does this relate to the recent announcement about diversity? Nadella has vowed to make Microsoft the model of diversity for the tech industry. Before he left the shareholders meeting last month, experts and arm-chair advisers were already weighing in on what the Microsoft CEO should do to increase diversity in the company and how he should go about doing so.

According to Business Insider [Ref 1], Microsoft’s most recent diversity data shows that the company has over 100,000 employees in 190 countries. Its workforce is made up of 71% men and 29% women; they are 60% white, 29% Asian and 11% other races. In technical roles, 83% are men to 17% women, with 57% of them white and 35% Asian. As far as leadership roles, 83% of those roles are held by men and 72% are white.

Microsoft isn’t the first company to launch a diversity initiative, therefore, what will be new or different about this one? In other words, we’ve heard this before. Actually, it put a smile on my face the same way this social media post did about three weeks ago after it went viral:

KanyeWEst-PaulMcCartneyCollaborationI’m still chuckling at the Paul McCartney-Kanye West comment, and then this question came to mind: Will diversity blow up at Microsoft?

As a woman, STEM professional, and member of a historically underrepresented group with over 25 years of experience in diverse sectors and industries, I also would like to offer Mr. Nadella some advice from my actual experience and those of others: As a starting point, don’t discount diversity best practices that have been successfully implemented over the years.

It would be to Microsoft’s advantage to do some data gathering with companies of a similar size, but not necessarily high tech, to understand what has worked, what didn’t, and why?

Many corporations and businesses have implemented diversity programs in their organizations over the last 20, 30, or 40+ years. Few have been successful. Why is that? Just a few have managed to launch successful diversity initiatives that have been enhanced and institutionalized into the operations, policy and procedures, and business practices of the company.

In Part 2 of this post, inclusion will be discussed along with some other recommendations that Mr. Nadella should be aware of in launching this very important initiative for Microsoft.

While the outcomes have not yet been determined, it’ll be interesting to see if diversity is about to blow up in a positive way at Microsoft.

References

Microsoft CEO Vows To Hire More People Who Are Not White Or Male, Julie Bort in Business Insider, http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-ceo-vows-to-improve-diversity-2014-12, December 3, 2014, last viewed on 01.16.2014

 

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About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.

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