Microsoft on Tuesday denied a recent suggestion by the US department of labour that its plan to bolster diversity, including by investing $150 million and doubling the number of black employees in high ranking positions, amounted to illegal race discrimination.
The denial came in a blog post responding to a letter Microsoft received last week from the labour departments office of federal contract compliance programs concerning an initiative announced by chief executive Satya Nadela on June 23.
General counsel said the letter suggested that the initiative appears to imply that employment action may be taken on the basis of race and asked Microsoft to prove its efforts to improve opportunities were not illegal race-based decisions.
General counsel wrote, emphatically they are not. ”We are clear that the law prohibits us from discriminating on the basis of race, we hire and promote the most qualified person”.
Microsoft announced its initiative four weeks after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked nation wide protests over racial inequality, and prompted more companies to confront inequality in their own ranks. Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google are among companies to pledge greater commitments to diversity.
Nadella pledged to double the number of black employees in the united states in senior and leadership roles by 2025. He also said Microsoft would conduct more transactions through black-owned banks, and make investments to support minority-owned banks and black-owned small businesses.