Satya Nadella Says Microsoft Is “Very Focused” On Diversity, Welcomes Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Push For Inclusion

At Microsoft’s annual shareholders conference today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella cited diversity progress in relation to the executive team and board of directors. In the last year, Microsoft nominated two women to the board of directors. That said, Nadella recognizes that Microsoft is still not where it needs to be, nor is the industry. RainbowPUSH Coalition’s Rev. Jesse Jackson, a tireless advocate of diversity and inclusion in tech, agrees that Microsoft could do a lot better.

“We now urge Microsoft to actively seek out qualified Blacks and Latinos for your next appointments, and want to work with you to identify Board leaders for the future,” Jackson said at the shareholders meeting.

Last year, across the tech industry, there were only three black people and one Hispanic person sitting on the boards of directors at 20 major tech companies, according to a survey by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. The number of black people on boards went up to four in October 2015, when Apple appointed James Bell, former CFO and president of Boeing.

Currently, Microsoft has one African-American, John Thompson, on its board of directors. In addition to board inclusion, Jackson touched on financial services, C-suite leadership and how Microsoft can be a leader in diversity and inclusion.

“The tech industry has made very little, if any, progress in cracking the code to transform the character and composition of their workforces, to break with old patterns of exclusion and overcome the 2% workforce dilemma,” Jackson said. “The status quo is unacceptable, and Rainbow PUSH will continue to apply the challenge and industry-wide positive pressure. We will continue the PUSH for real change, and insist that companies set measurable goals, targets and timetables to move the needle.”

Nadella responded saying that Microsoft is “very focused” on diversity, and cited the unconscious bias training it has deployed to over 100,000 employees, the diversity of Microsoft’s supplier programs, and accelerator programs to reach minority entrepreneurs.

Microsoft’s latest diversity report cited a workforce that is 73.1 percent male, 59.2 percent white, 5.4 percent Hispanic and 3.5 percent black. The only area where Microsoft didn’t make progress was around gender diversity, which Nadella did not directly address in his remarks.

Nadella went on to say that diversity and inclusion is something that Microsoft is “very committed to,” but despite its progress, “it is still not enough.”