The number of women who make up Microsoft's global workforce jumped 5 percent over the last year, although the percentage of female workers at the company still remains only 29 percent. The figures come from Microsoft's latest figures on corporate diversity, which it released alongside the launch of a new "Global Diversity and Inclusion" Web site.
"Diversity needs to be a source of strength and competitive advantage for us," said Lisa Brummel, Microsoft's executive vice president of human resources, writing in an e-mail sent to employees. "As our business evolves to focus more on end-to-end customer experiences, having a diverse employee base will better position Microsoft to anticipate, respond to and serve the needs of the changing marketplace." The company has been posting demographic data on its employees since 2006.
More Women, Minorities on the Board
The company touted progress it has made in the last year, particular with regard to increasing representation of women. The number of senior executive women and minorities grew from 24 percent to 27 percent, while the percentage of women and minorities on the board of directors climbed from 33 percent last year to 40 percent this year.
Microsoft's overall global workforce remains overwhelmingly represented by Caucasian and Asian employees, who make up 61 percent and 29 percent of the workforce, respectively. Only 5 percent of workers are Hispanic or Latino, and only 3.5 percent are African-American.
The figures are in line with the statistics reported by other American tech companies. Google, which released its own set of statistics on workforce diversity earlier this year, revealed that its workforce was 30 percent female and 62 percent Caucasian. Apple, meanwhile, reported that 70 percent of its 98,000-person workforce was male, while 55 percent of its U.S. workforce was Caucasian.
Tech Jobs Still Slanted
However, the improvement in the overall workforce numbers at Microsoft belie even greater imbalances among workers in leadership or technology roles at the company. Almost 83 percent of tech workers are male, according to Microsoft's figures. Caucasians make up more than 56 percent of tech employees, while more than 35 percent are Asian. Less than 4 percent of tech workers are Hispanic and only 2.3 percent are African-American.
Similar discrepancies exist in Microsoft's leadership positions. Only 17.1 percent of leadership positions are held by women. White employees hold more than 72 percent of the leadership roles, compared with less than 21 percent of Asian employees.
"I am proud of the progress we have made," Brummel said in her e-mail. "But we can all agree that much work remains to be done to increase the diversity of our company and the tech industry."
Despite Brummel's comments, many tech companies have fought to keep such numbers secret, arguing that such data constitute "trade secrets." Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has called on the government and tech companies to do more to increase diversity, describing such an effort as the next step in the civil rights process.