Microsoft has been vocal in its support for diversity, including CEO Satya Nadella saying the company would do more to promote a diverse culture through the organization. However, the US Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has questioned Microsoft's commitment.
Specifically, the Redmond-based company says it will increase the number of black employees in the United States by 2025. Microsoft says OFCCP has now sent a letter saying the program of inclusion constitutes racial discrimination.
Considering Microsoft has gone public with the letter, it seems the company firmly disagrees with OCCP's stance. In a blog post, Microsoft says the letter was received a week ago and questioned the validity of its diversity goals.
Microsoft has pledged to double the number of black employees across senior roles, management, leaders, and contributors. OFCCP argues the program violates the Civil Rights Act. The government body says the plan “appears to imply that the employment action may be taken on the basis of race”.
Microsoft insists that is not the case and the initiative is fully compliant with the law:
“Emphatically, they are not [race-based],” Microsoft corporate vice president and general counsel Dev Stahlkopf says.
“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.
“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.”
Microsoft's plan for more inclusion will see the company invest $150 million over the next five years. This money will go towards promoting diversity through the company and developing inclusion programs.