Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Talks Diversity Programs And The Tech Giant’s Commitment To Progress

On May 28, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addressed employees in light of the recent civil unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.

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"This is not something that you can just leave behind when you log in to work," he shared during a town hall meeting. "My feeling is that we can start by checking in with each other, ask all colleagues how they're doing and what they need, have empathy for what others are feeling."

Nadella was reluctant to mention the death of Floyd explicitly.

In a public statement, he wrote: "There is no place for hate and racism in our society. Empathy and shared understanding are a start, but we must do more. I stand with the black and African American community and we are committed to building on this work in our company and in our communities."

When asked by TIME what specifically the tech giant is doing internally to make changes, Nadella responded: "We're investing in the talent pipeline broadly, as we've expanded our connections with historically black Colleges and Universities. We also have to create an environment where all voices are heard and valued. That's why we've made inclusion a core priority for every employee."

However, hundreds of Microsoft employees have recently signed a petition and presented it to the tech firm, calling for the cancellation of its contracts with law enforcement, as protests across the U.S. and the world rally to defund and reform the police. The open letter was addressed to Nadella and Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene and was signed by more than 250 employees.

In March, immigrant rights groups and a group of Microsoft workers asked the tech industry to stop sharing their technologies with Immigration and Customs Enforcement as the agency conducted raids during the coronavirus crisis.

While Nadella commends Microsoft's diversity programs, its workforce was still nearly three-quarters male and more than half white as of late last year.

Experts on diversity have asked that tech companies pay attention to more than just who they're hiring, but how long people stay, how they're treated, whether they're given opportunities to grow with the company, and whether or not they make it to executive-level positions. Ultimately, tech won't achieve pay equality until black, indigenous, and other people of color, as well as women, hold as many high-paying roles as white men.