Racial Equity Initiative: A year of progress on our commitments

It has been one year since we outlined a set of actions and commitments our company would take over the next five years to address racial injustice. These commitments stem from a belief that the work we must do as individuals and as an organization toward justice and equity is urgent and requires intention and sustained engagement. It’s critical that this not be something we only care about at one time of year, or for one year in a lifetime – but instead that we commit to the ongoing exploration needed to help us be as informed, effective and sustainable as possible in how we approach change.

Our approach combines financial investments, technology and intellectual capital to make meaningful progress to improve the lived experience at Microsoft, as well as driving systemic change in the United States. These commitments include three efforts:

  • Increasing representation and strengthening inclusion. We are building on our diversity and inclusion momentum, funded by an additional $150 million investment. We will strengthen our culture of inclusion and double the number of Black and African American, and Hispanic and Latinx people managers, senior individual contributors and senior leaders in the U.S. by 2025.
  • Evolving our engagement with our supply chain, banking partners and partner ecosystem because we know a stronger and more productive ecosystem requires better representation of the diversity in our communities.
  • Strengthening communities by using data, technology and partnerships to help address racial injustice and inequities of the Black and African American communities in the U.S. and improve the safety and well-being of our employees and their communities.

We know our employees, customers and partners continue to want to understand our journey — where are we making progress, what are we learning — so I want to represent the work of many by sharing where we are across our three efforts. We will continue to report our progress with updates and resources available here.

Increasing representation and strengthening inclusion

Accountability for progress: Specifically on our commitment to double the number of Black and African American and Hispanic and Latinx people managers, senior individual contributors and senior leaders in the U.S. by 2025, we are well on our way to achieving that number.

  • For Black and African American people managers (below director level), we are 64.0% of the way to our 2025 commitment.
  • For Black and African American directors+ (people managers and individual contributors), we are 35.7% of the way to our 2025 commitment.
  • For Hispanic and Latinx people managers (below director level), we are 20.9% of the way to our 2025 commitment.
  • For Hispanic and Latinx directors+ (people managers and individual contributors), we are 20.4% of the way to our 2025 commitment.

Over the last five years, Microsoft has increased representation for all demographics and levels reported in the 2020 Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Data Disclosure and Report, and we will publish the 2021 D&I Data Disclosure and Report in fall 2021.

But we know that such a commitment goes beyond the numbers, to the meaningful and sustainable ways we drive individual, culture and systemic change. Here are some additional updates on our commitments.

Culture of inclusion: We are seeing more than 92% completion rate for the required D&I learning courses on allyship, covering and privilege in the workplace we mandated this past year. We have begun pilots of the executive D&I conversations focused on corporate workplace experiences of those who are Black and African American, and we will begin the pilots for conversations on Hispanic and Latinx workplace experiences within the year. These are the beginning of executive discussions on dimensions of identity, community and geography which we will continue to expand in the future.

And we hosted Include 2021, our internal and external D&I event on March 17 and 18, with more than 110 sessions and 70,000 registrants from 185 countries. We also shared event content for on demand viewing as part of the launch of a new Microsoft Inclusion Journey site. This site also supports our commitment to share some of our internal D&I learning courses with our larger ecosystem including partners, customers, vendors and developers. We will continue to add new content and conversations in the coming months.

Career planning and talent development: We have launched 20 cohorts of our mid-level and senior-level leadership development programs, with further staged cohorts planned for next year and beyond. Differentiated development programs have positive effects on employee experience and career development because they provide psychological safety for learning and growth but are only one offering in the larger suite of learning and development programs for all employees. The programs are opt-in and require managers of all participants to also participate in a parallel track to support and grow how they understand and support their employees.

Engaging our ecosystem In regard to updates specifically around meeting our goals to engage our ecosystem, including using our balance sheet and engagement with suppliers and partners to foster societal change:

Suppliers: We have realized growth in our Black- and African American-owned supplier base and have received positive feedback on the overall supplier experience. We have implemented a confidential voluntary workforce representation survey and are also introducing a Diversity Equity & Inclusion maturity framework to understand suppliers’ diversity programs. We continue to refine our procurement policies and practices to increase inclusion of diverse suppliers in the buying process.

Banking: In the past fiscal year, we have more than doubled the percentage share of transaction volumes with Black- and African American-owned financial institutions. In addition, we have increased our deposits with Black and African American-owned Minority Owned Depository Institutions (MDIs), enabling increased funds into local communities. We’ve also made investments including:

  • Clear Vision Impact Fund investment with Siebert Williams Shank, which will invest in small- and medium-sized minority-owned companies​
  • Entrepreneur Backed Asset Fund investment to increase capital to MDIs and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)​

Partners: In the past fiscal year, we have seen rapid growth in Black- and African American-owned technology partners in the Microsoft Partner Network. We have also built active partnerships with technology communities such as: Black Women Talk Tech, Black is Tech, Black Men in Tech, AfroTech/Blavity, and Black and Brown Founders.

In addition, we’ve launched the Black Channel Partner Alliance community to support partners onboarding to the Microsoft Cloud and unlock partner benefits for co-selling with Microsoft. And finally, we have launched programs to provide financing through extended payment terms to help with cash flow needs and no interest loans backed by Microsoft to provide broader access to capital.

Strengthening our communities

We’re focused on strengthening communities by using the power of data, technology and partnership to improve the lives of Black and African American people across the U.S. The work we do is grounded in how we empower others to drive forward scalable solutions across efforts such as:

Justice Reform: Through a five-year, $50 million sustained effort, we are working alongside communities to advance a more equitable justice system, with a specific focus on policing, alternatives to incarceration and prosecutorial reforms. Through these efforts, we aim to decrease the number of persons entering the justice system unnecessarily or unfairly, reduce disparities within the system, and help create safe, thriving communities.

Broadband: To support participation in the digital economy, we are expanding our Microsoft Airband Initiative to eight U.S. cities where Black and African American communities face some of the largest broadband gaps. In addition to working with internet service providers and other partners to deliver affordable broadband, we are collaborating on programs that provide access to affordable devices and champion digital skills initiatives.

Skills and education: As part of our global skills initiative, we are providing grants to community-based nonprofit organizations led by and serving Black and African American communities aiming to equip more people with the digital skills needed for the jobs of the 21st century. We will also expand computer science and data science curricula for Black and African American students in high schools and universities, through our Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program and continued partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Nonprofits: By rapidly scaling our Nonprofit Tech Acceleration (NTA) initiative, launched in the fall of 2020, we are expanding technology support for community-based nonprofits providing critical human and social services to the Black and African American community. NTA provides nonprofit grantees with cloud technology, training and concierge support to ensure they can be successful with modern solutions.

As we said one year ago, we are committed to addressing racial injustice and inequity by taking a holistic response to a systemic challenge through these three areas of effort. While we have been unwavering in our broader, ongoing focus to advance diversity and strengthen inclusion at Microsoft, we also understand that we have the opportunity to be more precise in where we accelerate progress, and these commitments are holding us accountable to that.

We will continue to be unrelenting in our work — informed and led by employees and leaders across our company. At Microsoft we know that we can only achieve our mission when everyone is included. We approach these efforts with a commitment to be candid about our progress and accountable to our ambitions.


Photo credits: Clockwise, from top left, courtesy of Diana Navas-Rosette; courtesy of Shelley McKinley; courtesy of Vickie Robinson; photo by Dan DeLong; photo by DV Photo Video; photo by Dan DeLong.

Tags: diversity, inclusion, Racial Equity Initiative


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