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Microsoft Corp.

Women Make Slight Gains at Microsoft After Purchase of LinkedIn

Nov. 15, 2017
Tech companies are under pressure from investors to speed up diversity efforts and tie executive pay more directly to progress.

Microsoft Corp.’s purchase of LinkedIn bolstered the software company’s percentage of women, halting a two-year decline, even as it slowed gains for minority workers.

Women in the combined company rose to 27% of the workforce, as of the end of September, from 26% last year at Microsoft Corp. alone, the company said in a blog post Tuesday. Without the addition of LinkedIn staff, the percentage was essentially unchanged. Microsoft’s $26 billion purchase of LinkedIn was concluded about 11 months ago and the company currently employs 125,416 people worldwide.

The percentage of black workers rose to 3.9% from 3.7% last year at Microsoft. Hispanic workers increased to 5.6% of the workforce from 5.5% a year earlier. Absent LinkedIn, the numbers would have risen to 4% and 5.9%, according to the blog post by Kathleen Hogan, chief people officer.

Tech companies are under pressure from investors to speed up diversity efforts and tie executive pay more directly to progress. Microsoft agreed to link the two last year. Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc., which have said they have no gender pay gap, this year all faced shareholder calls to make changes in diversity practices and disclosures.

Technology firms lag behind other industries in connecting executive pay to environmental and social metrics, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Apple has opposed proposals from shareholders that it add the metric to compensation.

Women in technical and leadership roles at Microsoft each rose to 19% from 18%, the company said. All managers will also be required to take specific training to increase the diversity of new hires. LinkedIn also reported individually today. In the future, all numbers will be combined.

Microsoft was sued this year by women who claimed discrimination at the Redmond, Wash.-based company cost female employees more than 500 promotions and $100 million to $238 million in pay, according to Oct. 27 court filings. Microsoft has denied the women’s claims that men are paid better and get promoted more often. It cited an in-house study in 2016 that found that women earned 99.9 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Among other big tech companies, Facebook also reported an improvement for women. Facebook said in August the number of women employed globally rose to 35% from 33% and among tech workers the percentage rose to 19% from 17%. Apple said in July that women were 32% of its workforce in 2017, unchanged from 2016. Google said its workforce is 31% women this year, also unchanged from 2016.

In the U.S. overall, black residents made up 13% of the population in 2016 and 18% of residents reported Hispanic or Latino heritage. Women made up 51% of the 2016 tally.

--By Jeff Green, with assistance from Dina Bass

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