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Gwen Houston, Microsoft’s General Manager of Global Diversity and Inclusion. (Microsoft Photo.)
Gwen Houston, Microsoft’s General Manager of Global Diversity and Inclusion. (Microsoft Photo.)

Microsoft says women continued to decline as a total percentage of its global workforce during the past year, from 26.8 percent to 25.8 percent, but the trend was caused primarily by its decision last year to cut back its phone hardware business, impacting factories that employed a large number of women.

Outside of those cutbacks, the company says it saw an increase of 0.4 percentage points in women as a percentage of its workforce, while women in technical roles increased 0.6 percentage points, and women in leadership roles increased by 0.6 points, as well.

“Our representation numbers show modest progress and a deepening commitment to advancing the work we’re doing around (diversity and inclusion) at Microsoft,” said Gwen Houston, Microsoft’s general manager of Global Diversity and Inclusion, in an interview this morning.

“While the 1 percent decline that we noted in women globally is certainly disappointing, it wasn’t altogether unexpected,” she added. “We believe we are at or very near the end of that decline as that business decision comes to an end. We take some optimism in the fact that we are starting to see some positive trend lines.”

Microsoft announced the new numbers today in a blog post and updated data on its website. Among the modest gains: Microsoft said the number African American/Black employees increased by 0.2 points, to 3.7 percent of the company’s workforce, while Hispanic/Latino representation increased by 0.1 percentage point, to 5.5 percent.

Microsoft also cited progress in improving the diversity of new hires. For example, among new employees, 6.6 percent were African American/Black and 7 percent were Hispanic/Latino. In technical jobs, 4 percent of new employees were African American/Black and 4.5 percent were Hispanic/Latino, the company said. In addition, women represented 27.7 percent of all new employees, about 2 percent more than the current representation of women at the company.

The company also touts the diversity of its board of directors, with women and ethnic minorities representing five of its 11 board positions.

Microsoft and other technology companies have increasingly been reporting their diversity numbers as part of a push to make the technology industry more inclusive. Among other initiatives, the company has tied the compensation of its senior leaders to their progress in improving diversity numbers as part of executive performance reviews.

The company posted

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