Microsoft Probed By US For Racial Discrimination

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Redmond diversity plans to double the number of black and African American senior staff faces scrutiny from US government

Software giant Microsoft is facing questions from the US government over a diversity initiative amounts to racial discrimination.

The US Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) singled out Redmond’s commitment back in June this year to “double the number of Black and African American people managers, senior individual contributors and senior leaders in our US workforce by 2025.”

American officials have reportedly warned Microsoft the target appears “to imply that the employment action may be taken on the basis of race.”

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Racial Discrimination?

Microsoft revealed the US probe in a blog post by Dev Stahlkopf, Redmond’s Corporate VP and general counsel.

“In a spirit of transparency, we want to disclose that Microsoft was contacted last week by the United States Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regarding some of the commitments we made in June to address issues faced by the Black and African American community,” blogged Stahlkopf.

He explained that Microsoft, like other contractors employed by the Federal government, is subject to OFCCP requirements, certainly surrounding employment law.

“Specifically, the OFCCP has focused on whether Microsoft’s commitment to double the number of Black and African American people managers, senior individual contributors and senior leaders in our US workforce by 2025 could constitute unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, which would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,” Stahlkopf wrote.

Stahlkopf said he had ‘every confidence’ that Microsoft’s diversity initiative complies fully with all US employment laws.

“We look forward to providing the OFCCP with this information and, if necessary, defending our approach,” he wrote.

“In the letter we received last week, the OFCCP suggested that this initiative ‘appears to imply that employment action may be taken on the basis of race.’ Stahlkopf wrote. “The letter asked us to prove that the actions we are taking to improve opportunities are not illegal race-based decisions.”

“Emphatically, they are not,” he wrote.

“We believe it is a core part of our mission to make our company, our community and our country a place where people of diverse views and backgrounds are welcomed and can thrive,” wrote Stahlkopf. “We know that as a company and a country we have more work to do to expand opportunity. We look forward to helping the OFCCP understand the legality of our programs as we work towards a shared goal of promoting diversity in full conformity with federal law.”

Microsoft has to respond to the US questions by 29 October.

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