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A candid discussion on Microsoft, African Americans, tech and inequality

At Windows Central, we cover all things Microsoft including the context of the industry and world in which it exists and which impacts the company's operations. The topic of inclusion is something we've diligently addressed.

As the U.S. this month honors the often ignored contributions of people of African descent, I turn my attention to the challenge African Americans have faced and currently face at Microsoft, in the tech industry, and even in tech blogging.

A troubled history

It is impossible to address this topic honestly without acknowledging the sensitive issue of race and inequality. Raw data reflecting a company's employment percentages for race, money spent on outreach efforts, or internal inclusion programs and strategies is valuable, but it represents shallow data points that merely scratch the surface of a complex issue.

The real challenge includes nuances of intentional and unintended bias and the long-term cultural, social and personal effects of centuries of slavery and institutional racism on wealth distribution, access to opportunities and education. Many companies cite the standard reply that the "pipeline" of African Americans to the tech industry is insufficient, thus the poor representation of blacks in tech. There is some truth to that claim.

Much (though not all) of it is a product of an unequal distribution of resources between black and white communities where many black families can't afford college to prepare young adults for these jobs, however. Anecdotally, if I had not received a partial four-year academic scholarship, I might not have a degree today.

I acknowledge the Civil Rights movement has improved things. But as we address this topic of poor representation of blacks in tech we must realize that the biases that prevented my grandmother from drinking from a certain fountain less than 100 years ago were not legislated out of the hearts of her contemporaries, nor potentially their children and grandchildren. Nor did it undo the system of entrenched relationships that perpetuate inequality in various industries to this day. The fact that only four percent of Microsoft's 124,000 employees (opens in new tab) are African American (when blacks make up 13 percent of the population) reflects this sad legacy of racial inequality in America.

Blacks in tech, the numbers speak

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella (Image credit: Windows Central)

Companies file Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO-1) forms with the federal government that show the actual breakdown of the number of people from specific groups employed in various capacities within a company. Facebooks 2016 EEO-1 reveals that just 13 of its 296 executives, senior officials and managers were black. Microsoft's 2015 EEO-1 for the same category reveals only four of its 155 top execs were black. Other companies like Google and Yahoo, and the other categories including sales, technicians, professionals and more, fared no better.

This data has seen little change over the years. Microsoft's 2017 workforce demographic reflects that just 2.7 percent of tech employees, 6.9 percent of non-tech and 2.2 percent of Microsoft's leaders are black. The 18.9 percent in retail likely reflects a bulk of employees impacted to some degree by social and financial barriers to educational opportunities limiting them to these positions.

This is not a denial of individual responsibility to diligently pursue opportunities. It is, however, a recognition that there are social barriers that make the attainment of those goals, even when sincerely pursued, often more difficult to attain for African Americans. Microsoft and other tech giants recognize this reality.

Microsoft's inclusion efforts

Microsoft Logo at Ignite

Microsoft Logo at Ignite (Image credit: Windows Central)

In 2016, Microsoft donated $1,000,000 to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. It also offers a $20,000 Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship, which has a March 1, 2018, deadline.

In 2011, black students received just six percent of STEM bachelor degrees, four percent Masters and two percent PhDs. Conversely, whites received 65.5 percent of STEM undergraduate degrees and 71 percent of STEM jobs. In 2015, Microsoft partnered with iUrban (opens in new tab) to help expose students of color to STEM jobs at the company.

Furthermore, Microsoft's Blacks Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a partnership between Africans at Microsoft and Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) designed to advance Microsoft's global diversity strategy. The more than 800 employee group sponsors an annual BAM Minority Student Day in February to expose underrepresented ethnic groups to opportunities in tech. The group also provides employee and college mentoring and helps implement corporate diversity plans.

Additionally, in 2014, John Thomas became Microsoft's first black board of directors chairman in the company's 40-year history. All of this progress, however, is tempered by the reality of challenges that persist. For instance, the Congressional Black Caucus on December 20, 2017, petitioned Microsoft (opens in new tab) to extend its new policy not to force private arbitration for sexual harassment cases to include race discrimination cases. A sobering context for this request is that two-thirds of African Americans and 50 percent of Hispanics Americans see racial discrimination as a major issue in the tech industry, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Where are the black tech bloggers?

Except for Web Video Producer Marques Brownlee, who has millions of followers of his gadget reviews, Booredatwork hosts, and a few others, blacks covering the world of tech are as meagerly represented as blacks in tech. Those few black vloggers at the forefront are exceptions who have little reliance on established outlets.

A cursory glance of the roster of writers of most major tech sites and blogs reveal an anemic representation of African Americans. This is a reality that if addressed, like blacks in tech, would add diversity and perspective that would benefit the industry.

Finally, as an African American man, I'm aware of and applaud the progress that's been made in recent decades. It's important, however, that the world of tech and beyond remain cognizant of the progress yet to be made if efforts toward inclusion and equality are to be realized.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

133 Comments
  • Yeah people from South Guatemala are under-represented as well.
  • Damn, first comment and you had to make it the stupidest one on the page.
  • Actually, it's about as ridiculous as some of the notions in the article and the woe is me rhetoric that has just become far too tiring to me. Forgive my political incorrectness. Why are blacks under represented in the tech industry in comparison to their national population? It's not racism, bigotry or a secret conspiracy. It's something far more simple. It's NOT something they largely aspire towards. Why do they dominate in the NBA and NFL? That too is something simple, it's because it IS something they largely aspire towards. Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable, sorry if you find that offensive, it's meant to be neither. It's the realest thing you've read all day.
  • It's not that your post is simply politically incorrect it is just an incredibly unintelligent position to take.
  • That is not a counter argument, provide one or refrain from commenting.  Name calling, or making assumptions is ueseless.
  • It's really not that simple unmorphed. Exposure to opportunities is one of the motivators for a desire for certain things. When you live in a community where the school systems don't provide that type of exposure and the distribution of wealth that has been unequally balanced literally for centuries in this country and only after the Civil Rights movements of the 60's (just a few years before I was born), the overt institutional barriers were taken down so that educational, employment and social opportunities could then BEGIN and I stress only begin to shift, to redistribute wealth to provide more opportunities you don't have that type of exposure to opportunities. Children don't see people like themselves in those type of positions. Culturally, going back to slavery times and the pre-Civil Rights era, blacks have always been accepted by whites in "entertainment roles". Singing, dancing, sports, etc. But looking them in the eye as an intelligent equal during those times literally meant torment or death. To your point of blacks in sports, sure, the NFL, NBA "PLAYERS" (continuing the accepted entertainment role) are dominated by blacks (And minority children see this, thus aspire to it, but they don't see blacks in tech or many powerful leadership positions). But how many team "OWNERS" are black? Owner, isn't even a term I like to use when thinking about these black players, comprising teams owned by white team owners. But, it again, is an example, of my point. Wherever there is a distribution of power in the US, the legacy of racism, though there has been progress, still skews negatively towards blacks. To think that the legacy of hundreds of years of slavery and its flipside of hundreds of years of general wealth and opportunity for whites (I KNOW there are exceptions) and decades of Jim Crow, and open racism that followed the official end of slavery which retained the familial, social, business, relational and community distributions of wealth and power would suddenly be shifted to balance and equality less than 60 years after the end if the Civil Rights movement I think is naive and doesn't appreciate the scope and breadth of the impact and entrenched affects of the legacy of racism in America. I absolutely agree things have gotten better. I wouldn't be writing this on this site if it hadn't; but the fact that when I was teaching fifth grade in an urban school district a few years ago, the science books we were given were LITERALLY the science books 📚 from the 80s from when I was in grammar school tells me there's a lot of work to do.
    These books focused on technology that was so outdated🤯, I still have an image in my head, it's crazy that the district allowed the books to be used to teach science to these children! Like I said, I don't ignore the progress, but my eyes are still open to the progress that needs to be made. Its a difficult topic to discuss because there are barriers up on all sides sometimes. But the first step is a humble acknowledgement by all parties, those that directly, indirectly or don't feel its affects, that the problem is there, then taking the painful approach of looking it in the eye TOGETHER, which will force ALL of us to openly look into a mirror at potential biases, pride, anger, hardness of heart, etc. And then prayerfully, empathetically, and compassionately working together to deconstruct what years of schisms has erected.
  • Excellent comment (and excellent article). You are spot-on here.
  • Thanks Laura.
  • Wait so you're trying to argue that the reason there aren't more blacks in technology is because they aren't told they can get a scholoship for it?
  • That's not what he wrote.
    I can't help you if your comprehension skills are this poor.
    Maybe reread the comment.
  • Axmantim That is not remotely what I stated, nor even inferred in the slightest.😯
  • What other exposure to opportunities do you mean then?
  • Preach Jason. I know many don't want to hear the truth. But you are doing a great job of telling it how it is.
  • Thank you for your support.👍🏿
  • Thanks for sharing Jason.  Very valid points.  History no matter how you look at it is what we are products of.  Even though that, we have the power to change the furture of things.  Glad you shared your write up here.
  • Thanks Nate. I appreciate the support.👍🏿
  • Jason, no progress needs to be made, it already has. This is 'victim' mentality. The doors are already open, it just comes down to personal choices. The reason why you dont see a bunch of black tech bloggers is the same reason you dont see hillbilly tech bloggers, its a cultural thing, not an ethnic thing. As far a 'appropriation' goes, to encourage more blacks to get into tech positions, thats straight-up racism against other people (who dont happen to be black) that are aspiring for those positions. I thought we got past the skin-colour thing.
  • @jandrews77 "I thought we got past the skin -color thing."
    That's the problem. A lot of people think just that because it's not as blatant as it was during the pre-Civil Rights era. 😕 And because it's less blatant those who don't experience it themselves think the impact of the legacy of centuries of slavery and institutionalized racism on wealth distribution, long established relationships in businesses, systemic bias, imbalance of education between white and black communities, bias in law ⚖enforcement, and prejudices held in the heart of people who were alive before/during the Civil Rights movement (who gladly perpetuated biases by putting whites only signs etc in thier shop windows) and taught thier children and families who are alive today those same bias (which legally can't be as blatantly expressed in a business) and more has somehow just automagically self-corrected in the mere five-decades plus since the civil rights movement is an unrealistic perception of the depth of the social, economic, educational and psychological impact of racism in America.
    Even if bigots no longer existed, which the thousands from all different walks of life and occupations, who marched the streets on separate occasions last year chanting hate and following a leader articulating a goal of an all White America, proves unequivocally is not the case, undoing the centuries of an unequal distributional of wealth, education and more would take more than the 50+years since the Civil Rights Movement.
    And as I point out in the piece, I don't ignore, individual responsibility to pursue available opportunities. What I do stress is that the reality of racisms impact, both residual affects of what it has done to minority communities and the active impact of remaining bias that perpetuate those impacts by active racist behavior and also the presumption that "all is well" and "all is equal" helps to maintain these inherent barriers that makes pursuit of opportunities for many minorities an uphill battle, which for many whites who don't see the same challenges, much easier to access and achieve.
    One of the assets to change during the Civil Rights Movement was the recognition many white Americans had of the plight and challenges face black Americans. That union of humanity helped "Americans" of both colors achieved what progress was achieved then. But the issue wasn't fixed when the whites only signs came down, and segregation was forced to end, etc. That addressed some of the overt very visible manifestations of racism.
    What is need now, is that same level if recognition from white Americans that simply because the whites only signs came down, and integration was forced, the there are still areas where the impact of racism in America are still being felt though not as blatantly manifest. The presumption that all is well helps to ensure that all remains "unwell."
    You see, because sadly, though I wish we had, America hasn't yet gotten past the skin color thing. And the organized efforts of White supremacist who have been emboldened to say openly on news programs (I hope you guys are keeping up on this stuff) that they are actively positioning people in positions of political power to further thier cause is a sobering reality of the state of racism in America. Where racists are again emboldened to publically vocalize thier biases and purposefully continue positioning themselves in positions of political power and state that fact without reservation on prime time news programs.
    Sadly, the presumption that "all is well," mentality which offers no resistance to the more subtle aspects of biases in America, will offer little resistance to these more blatant and organized movements in politics and law enforcement, because the feeling is, "all is well."
    Its not. It really is not.
  • Jason, I've enjoyed reading your articles when I come to this website.  And will continue to do so.  I strongly disagree with you on this and will try and type of something between working on other things that hopefully makes sense and is understandable.  I’ve got A.D.D. so it’s hard.  I hope it wasn’t Trump that you were talking about when you said “Marched in the streets on separate occasions last year chanting hate and following a leader articulating a goal of an all White America”  If so, you lose all credibility and I'm not going to try to have a conversation with somebody that says that. If you're talking about some white nationalist, I think that is a very very small percentage of people that were in those marches.  I would bet that there are just as many black people that hates white's just as much.  Regardless, talking about what minority hates another minority isn't going to solve the problem. I agree that because of America's history, Black Americans are still suffering the effects of slavery.  I don't like saying Black Americans, because it's divisive – we’re all Americans, but for this argument I will have to use it.  I think it’s a term we all should stop using.  I don’t believe calling most people today racist is going to solve problems.  I am sick and tired of being called and seeing or hearing others be called racist because we’re white or because we’re a conservative or republican.  I don't have a problem with black people.  I had nothing to do with what happened in the past, so why do I get called a racist?  My family has lived in the North since they came from Germany.  A lot of representatives that I have voted for were never involved either.  They get called racist because there is a disagreement with how to solve the problem.  If somebody disagrees with a Democrat today, they’re accused of being racist.  How is that going to solve any problems?  Because Black Americans are still feeling the effects of racism and slavery, doesn’t mean that it’s right to call us all racists today.  We didn’t do it.  Stop calling us such a derogatory name. How I think republicans/conservatives can help mitigate the effects of it is a whole different topic that I won’t get into on here.  I think they’re a lot of good ideas, but they won’t every be listened to from the left because the first word that comes out of a republican’s mouth is something RACIST according to the left. I believe most have us “got past the skin – color thing”.  Our problem now is only one side thinks they have the ONLY solution to the problem caused by a lot of people that aren’t around today, and the other side is a bunch of racists because they do not agree. I did what I could, hopefully this gives people something to think about.  I'm not a very good writer at all, and I'll gladly admit that anytime.
  • Hi bguy and thanks for your comment. First, no I wasn't talking about Trump marching the streets. I was referring to white supremacist leaders who have voiced an organized and intentional strategy (that has been in action for years) to position likeminded individuals in politics and I believe law-enforcement. These leaders, now in an increasingly devisive racial climate in America, are now comfortable emboldened to openly voicing thier bias and hate on national news programs and in the streets followed by thousands of others who represent a larger population than the thousands we've seen marching. And yes, you are right, there are prejudice black people, and it dead wrong! People should just LOVE people. But, the acknowledgement of prejudice blacks though a sad reality, doesn't preclude the impact of the racism on blacks that has been part of this culture for centuries and is perpetuated by those who are in positions to enforce biases aligned with that sordid history. Now, to your point about being called a racist. I'm sorry for your experiences, and I am not of the mind, nor due I state or infer that every white person is a racist. Nor do I think EVERY difference of perspective as to how to address this issue makes someone a racist. What is important however, is a realization by all parties that there is a real problem, in America, and the legacy of slavery and racism regarding wealth distribution, education in black communities, opportunities and more are still impacting African Americans. The empathy and realization of white Americans to the plight of black Americans less than 100 years ago, helped to fuel the limited successes of the Civil Rights movement. That same empathy and realization is needed today.
  • Spot on jandrews377
  • Yet the SE-Asians seem to do really well...
  • Thank you for making my point clearer, Adapter. That group of people does not share the deep-rooted legacy of slavery and racism blacks in America have experienced. The legacy of racism in America that taught the reduction of blacks to thier physicality "bucks" or sexuality "winches", and the deep rooted and intentional rejection of their intellect continues even today. Even in media black characters or people of color are predominantly cast as the "muscle" 💪🏿or brutish rather than the intellectual: Mr T from A Team, Worf from Star Trek the Next Generation, Bill Harken from Alphas, Gorgon from Inhumans (ABC television series), Power Man from the comics Power Man and Iron Fist, more recently Luke Cage and Defenders on Netflix, the person of color in kid show Stretch Armstrong on Netflix and so many other examples. This may sound trivial to some but these type of typical portrayals are a reflection of the legacy of how blacks are perceived in our culture. Studies have even shown where an image of a black person is perceived by cops as a threat even when the image is of an unarmed person. So if there is an underlying bias, (reinforced by images in media) that blacks are not intellectuals but more physically inclined that bias is likely intentionally and unintentionally applied in hiring practices. Candidly speaking it would also effect the self perception(as it was meant to do during slave times and overt racism) of black people themselves. This legacy of those overt efforts of mental enslavement still affects black communities where intellectual or studious blacks are sometimes called "acting white" by their peers. The entrenched division deeply founded during slave times to sow a chasm between whites and black with whites as intellectuals and blacks as physically apt remains in these cultural, media, and social expressions. This is not something SE-Asians, though they did endure prejudices in America, experienced to this degree.
  • No it does not make your point clearer. It makes it even more clear that people seem to think that black people have this special place in the world where they have always been the victim compared to the others. People from SE-Asia often fled to the US (and Europe) because their governments made them work for almost no money with little to no change of getting good education housing etc. But due to differences in culture, work ethic (and some argue even IQ), they tend to do very well. It is even worth mentioning that SE-Asians score better at schools than the whites and tend to have lower crime rates than the whites. Maybe that might be why they endured the 'prejudices' in America and Europe. Slavery is and always has been common until it was aboslished in the Western world. It's still present in the Arab world, in Africa (after all, blacks tended to sell their own people for profit to the Arab slave-traders), and in Asia. Whites and Asians have been slaves for many centuries by the Arabs. You don't hear about that in the news or history books. And about the media black characters; I know a lot of movies, comics etc. in which dumb blonde white males are the stupid brainless muscle-men. Funny you mention Star Trek, the series that actually never even talked about racism because they were already above it. And you seem to cherry-pick one character out of all the series and dismissing all of the rest. It just shows how much you are looking for bad examples and don't pay attention to what the serie is all about.  
  • Agree on Trek. They have a black captain Sisko, Vulcan Tuvok. Urhura was the first black character in TV not in a stereotype role. The Michael Burnham character is the lead of the new Star Trek Discovery. As for tech, i watched Die Hard recently, and Hans Gruber's tech genius was the black guy.
  • Hi Adapter, I am with the knowledge that all raises have endured slavery thoughout human history. What I am addressing here are the affects of slavery of blacks and racism in America and it's enduring impact. The reality of centuries of mental training to see dark skinned individuals as less than human, ignorant etc (which is sadly applicable to other raises - dark is frowned upon), wealth distribution, education disparities, economic effects on community and more, just looking at this from a purely logical perspective regardless of ones position, would take MUCH longer than the less than 60 years since Civil Rights Movement to resolve. We talk about how long its taking Microsoft to turn itself around, under the One Microsoft initiative, from years of conflict between divisions. And we "accept" the reality that the 40+ year old company with 120K plus employees, many of whom have been there for decades, many leaders who were part of the divided pre-One Microsoft movement, that changes in perspective, practices, company culture, policies and more are very entrenched and will take time to begin to manifest a "oneness", and cohesive strategy in products and services so that we see products that serve consumers and that the company is 100perxent behind. Years of division makes this a time-consuming process for this 120K plus person company that isn't yet 50 years old. Imagine how slow the change will be for a country with 300M people that is centuries old, that had institutionalized racism as an intricate part of it culture, economics, education, law enforcement, legal system, healthcare and social interactions for all of its history, only ending (Institutionalized racism) less than 60 years ago. If Microsoft is a big ship 🚢 that will take time to turn around, America is exponentially larger and will take longer than the "less than my mothers" life time to turn around. And to the point of the media examples I chose m, it wasn't cherry picking. I'm just not inclined to spend the time providing the exhaustive list one can provide, and thought a sample of examples sufficient.
  • It's not all about "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps." There are environmental factors that can get in the way no matter how much someone might put effort or aspire towards something.
  • That k you. If you make up 15% of the population, thinking the work force should be made up of half that same demograph is ridiculous. You are the first person other than me, I have heard say this. It's getting ridculous.
  • Brutal...and I love it!!
  • "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." - MLK jr.
  • Honestly, for the most part we're pretty much there. Or, should I say we could be further along if so many people didn't always react to whatever the media feeds them.... Racism, and equality (in America), isn't as bad as people entertain it to be. The media, and it's followers, do more perpetuation of BS, than BS actually exist in 2018... That just says a lot of people need to get over it, get over themselves, wakeup, find a new hobby, and move on to living their lives. Man, life is too short.
    .........
    I'm "black", and I am sure my skin color hasn't held me back from living in the neighborhood I choose, buying the house I want, driving the cars I like, getting the job I need, and associating with the people I wish to. If I'm wrong then I shall live in naivety, because I refuse to blame others for my fate, and I refuse to teach that oppressive thinking to others. Life is what you make it, and there's a lot of people in the past that suffered so that I would grow to have this perspective, and it be validated. In honor of them I choose to be thankful, and take advantage of their efforts, instead of complaining about what the white man doesn't do for me. Lol.. Like me, or hate me, take it, or leave it. That's the way I am, and I'm proud of it.
  • That is your experience, only yours, everyone has their own story. Just because you have never been "held back", there are countless others who have been. There is a huge difference between "blaming the white man" and being oppressed or having opportunities taken from you. I too am black, I too have not been held back (to my knowledge), but for me to think that other people of color haven't would be incrediby naive, especially when talking about the American justice system and educational opportunities. I think sharing the message you shared is borderline irresponsible but hey, to each their own, I am happy to see a fellow American be successful.
  • How can you make statement when you haven't experienced it yourself?  Have you met anyone who has, and it's definitive that it was due to race?
  • There are many things that are true that one does not need to experience to understand. Example, having your heart broken, I've personally never had someone break my heart but I have seen enough people that have to understand. To answer your questions yes and yes. If you don't beleive it to be true, there is nothing I can say that will change that. If you live your life treating everyone equal and never let the color of someone's skin affect decisions you make, cool, awesome in fact.
  • I think you're confusing empathy for understanding. You can emphasize with other people about things you haven't experienced, but there are some things you can't truly understand (even if you can emphasize) if you haven't experienced it. To be clear, I'm not saying you can't learn more about something from other people's experiences.
  • Empathy and understanding are not mutually exclusive. I see what you are saying and maybe a better analogy could have been provided but I think I got the point across. Doesn't mean everyone agrees with me....
  • So what company or college should I be boycotting?  And I hope your friend or acquaintance either spoke to someone above that person or set of persons, threatened or took legal action?  If not, a dis-service to the next person was perpetrated.  I don't hold any dilusions that there aren't racist people out there, but I don't believe that any institution can stand for long in the United States and behave with any degree of racism.  If a company or institution acts in a racist manner, they can be sued out of existence, or boycotted into the ground.  I do not allow their color, size, or any other superflous factors affect how I treat people and actually hold the religious belief that every human on this earth is my brother and sister, so there is no room for racism.  I love that youtube video of Morgan Freeman talking about Black History month.  If you haven't seen it, it's great, he basically tells the interviewer (white) let's stop talking about it, stop referring to me as a black man and you as a white man, and let's just be men, having a good conversation.  Highly recommend it!
  • It is not only a black thing but a being poor thing too. It is plain to see that police patrol rich areas much more than poor. Schools are much better in rich towns.
  • Exactly. Cultural, not ethnical. If the black culture is not condusive to aspiring their children to shoot for the higher jobs, that a black problem, not a societal problem.
  • raiderfan248365
    You have no clue what my experience is, and I'm not talking about ignoring injustices.
    ...................
    It's not all about what my experience was... It's more about how you process that experience, learn from it, and go on with your life.... It's a choice.
  • Spot on.
  • God bless you!
  • God has blessed all of us. We just have to choose to see it, and take advantage of it. Thanks brother.
  • That's pretty much exactly what I'm trying to communicate to people Rodney. I feel like "diversity hiring" is going to end up increasing tensions far more than it would relieve them. I mean, I'm going into the tech market myself pretty soon. I'm white, but I don't want myself nor my potensial employer to have to worry about "diversifying" the team, and I'm sure that applies to any race. Theoretically, if people didn't worry so much on either end, the racial makeup of the workforce would eventually settle at the appropriate level.
  • Terrific point.
  • Diversity hiring serves several goals, social justic is actually at the low end of the metric.  There is a reason software and hardware has become appealing to a wide array of the populace and that is that a much wider array of the demographics they are sold into now participate in its creation.   A business that is not attempting to diversify its hiring pool is a business missing opportunities, both in talent and in the market for their products.  If you truly don't want to worry about diversity hiring then product development probably is not a good place for you.
  • I'm glad you said it Rod, because someone else would immediately be called racist. There's a culture of victimisation installed in America, perpetuated by Leftists, that likes to pass on the idea that America still lives in the 50's and Rosa Parks is still fighting in the Bus and women don't go into STEM because they're being forced to stay at home with the kids.   Merit is what drives people forward. Hell, John Thompson, the current Chairman of Microsoft is a black guy and he didn't get there by whinning about "being a minority" and needing "special treatment". The current CEO is Indian. I don't recall him being chosen because he whinned his way through the selection process. Demanding quotas is ridiculous. It's not inclusion. It's diversity for the sake of diversity. And not only that, but it undervalues the work of those who reached the places they're in through hard work. If I were black, after getting a job at a company through my study and hard work, the last thing I'd like would be to see other people get in not because they worked hard like I did, but because they had a certain race or gender and filled in some bullsh*t SJW quota.
  • We disagree on this. If you believe that no one cares about race, and that white people aren't, and haven't been hired over a person of color because they were white, there is nothing to say that will change your mind. I'll just add this, NO ONE wants to be a diversity hire, NO ONE, people want to be hired because of the their qualifications. What people of color want are the same opportunities white people have, because historically and even today, lots of people would "rather" hire white people. What this article is saying is that black people specifically don't have as many opportunities as others. It is not calling for diversity hires it is calling for more black people to join the industry which de facto would get more black people hired. It is easy to write it off as "they are not interested", that kind of rhetoric has been used throughout history to keep women and minorities down and while it does not seem like your intent was to be racist, those statement come off very insensitive to say the least.
  • See, what you're doing is dwelling on the state of the issue.... We all know that the system is not perfect. What my original comment is talking about is having the correct attitude, and bringing fourth a part of the solution.
    ......................
    Too many of "us" talk about the way things should be, and ask, rely, and plead for the world to change thier perspective of us. Well, that's not gonna get us anywhere. The sooner we start taking the responsibility upon ourselves to change the perspective of others about us as a group, then we will final make progress. Too many people want change, but aren't willing to change themselves. Believe it, or not, that self oppressive habit is what's holding more black people back in 2018 than anything.
    Our negative perspective of how the world views us, and how we view the world, hold us back more than anything.
    Now, that's not borderline irresponsible, that's totally irresponsible, and quite ignorant, to put it lightly.
    .....................
    Now, it's not that I don't agree with this article. This article is terrific at addressing an issue that is not only obvious, but needs to be given attention to. I'm glad Jason post it, and I have much respect for him. Since Jason addressed one side, I'm addressing the other. That's all. I've been around for 40 years, and I know that attitude is what will get you further in life than anything. No excuses.
  • I don't disagree with anything you just said Rod. I think we are talking about two seperate things. All I was trying to say is that the world does care about race and sometimes people of color are held back or face oppresion. Having a "woe is me attitude" doesn't help anyone. But recognizing the way things are can help influence decisions and strategy for people of color as they navigate the world. Great convo though, appreciate it.
  • Well said. Good point, and understood. We're all wanting the same thing here.
  • DCJBS.... Well, I think that's the bottom line. Regardless of what adversities might be in front of you you must continue to push forward yourself. That's not saying that issues don't exist, and to ignore the issues.
    ......
    That fact is that many want better from society, but aren't doing their part to the fullest. Now, I'm thinking that Jason's article is definitely not talking about those who don't do their part, and take responsibility for their lives, and that I see is an injustice. But, handouts aren't the solution.
    Conscious, and intentional, diversification? IDK, I'm gonna have to think about the long term dynamics, and affects, of that one. That could take me weeks. I only comment on issues I've had experience with.
    .........
    Lastly, QUIT WORRYING ABOUT BEING CALLED RACIST! Black people speak their mind openly (and sometimes derogatorily) about issues, and it's acceptable in society without them being called racist.. That's a stupid double standard, and that needs to stop. It's supposed to be equal rights, so let's start practicing that. Speak your mind as you please! We do🤷🏽🤷🏽🤷🏽
  • 1) I got to personally witness my ex repeatedly get pushed by her advisors at Michigan State towards the 'soft sciences' because the hard science degree she was working towards "requires a lot of math and chemistry and thats difficult."  Meanwhile her male peers would get repeatedly encouraged towards those specialties.  When you are spending tens of thousands to be educated, you are 18-22, and your 'advisors' repeatedly try to tell you its too difficult, not a lot of people that age would persist.   2) I have personally witnessed managers using inappropriate methods to determine who is a good potential interview candidate or hire.  Examples include last names (speculating on country of origin), educational institution (foreign universities or lower income colleges where minorities may be more prevelent), extra questions thrown at women candidates to be 'certain they could handle the pressure', lots of questions under 'team fit' that were really feeling them out in ways they would never do for another white guy candidate.   I've been in the industry for 23 years now.  I've seen a lot.  Things *have* improved.  In the 90's I was embarassed by my Microsoft colleagues behavior at times.  Now professionalism is expected during team events and even when not on company time they are reminded of the fact that they are a face of the company.  I've worked for a couple other big names since then.  It is better.  But I still see a lot.   Thank you for the article Jason, well thought as usual.
  • Hi David, I thank you for sharing your experiences, observations and thoughts.. And I appreciate your support as well.👍🏿
  • This is why I place greater importance on statistics and studies than I do personal anecdotes. I think your comment and experience are notable and shouldn't be hidden; however in public forums, I will always push back and I think you know why. Because unmorphed up thread will be copy pasting your comment and using it to justify his regressive ideologies.
  • I think it can be as simple as, stop looking at yourself as a black man and just see yourself as a man. I've seen a "black man" ridiculed by other blacks because he "sounded white". What is wrong with that?
  • This is another terrific point, and example.
    It's ignorant to further segregate yourself when so many people have fought for your Americanization, or should I just say freedom. (because everyone doesn't live in America. I forget)
  • During the early '08 Dem primary, some people have criticized that Obama wasn't black enough, whatever that means. Hillary had the majority of black support initially. It wasn't until Obama won a few primaries and got the momentum that people believed he can win, then the black Americans backed him. But I don't even see him as black. He is half white, raised by white mother and grandparents, but lived as a black man in USA. His personal background and story is inspiring. Same goes for Tiger Woods. He is 1/4 Chinese, 1/4 Native American, 1/4 black, 1/4 Thai, but PGA market him as a black golfer. What can't we just see a person's accomplishment without always having to pigeon hole them into a racial type? Understand and learn about the person first before assuming anything. Every individual is unique. Our biology dictates that.
  • Thank you for tackling this material. It's nice to have perspective.
  • Thanks for reading. I encourage you to share it if so inclined.👍🏿
  • So happy to see a piece like this on one of my favorite websites. I already love the writing you do on Microsoft's trajectories and futures and appericate that you have the range to address social issues that also impact the tech that we love. As a Black sociologist and amateur tech/geek culture writer I'm 100% here for this!
  • Thanks willrich I appreciate your sharing that, and your support🙂
  • Thanks Jason for shedding light on this issue. I worked at Microsoft for several years and I grew up in Seattle. Microsoft has a lot of work to do in this area. One of many factors for the underrepresentation is Seattle itself, where less than 8% of the population is black, 6% hispanic; so the pool is smaller, not to mention that Seattle is still fairly segregated as far as where most African Americans live and socio-economic and educational opportunities. They need to a better job or recruiting as well as more involvement in tech education in Washington state. Another factor is that many of its employees are based outside of North America; in Europe, of course, the vast majority of citizens are of European descent while many minorities have a difficult time.   On a slightly different more global note, one aspect of Microsoft that I really appreciated was its commitment to diversity in its employee training. I distinctly remember a training video on which Steve Ballmer explained the business case for diversity. His basic point was that, unless you have a diverse team, you can't understand what most customers want (think of all the trouble U.S. car makers had selling overseas historically, because their product people were all American). After all, not all customers are white and live in the U.S. My experience at Microsoft was one where you'd hear different languages spoken, and one where people from all around the world were represented and gave insight to what our customers wanted. (I can guarantee you that this was an eye-opener for many employees who had never heard such logic)
  • Thank you for your thoughts.  It does seem like the pipeline is part of the issue.  Obviously any biases in hiring, promotion, etc. should also be addressed, but part of the question is how to increase the number of available qualified candidates.  You mentioned anecdotally that you may not have a degree if you have not received a partial scholarship.  I think this can true for a lot of people of any background.  Assuming college costs were not an issue, what other issues might need to be addressed?  I've read, for example, that there is a higher drop-out rate in both high school and college and that grades tend to be lower than for people of other backgrounds.  I don't believe these individuals are any less capable than anyone else, so it seems there may be other societal challenges (aside from the economic challenges you mentioned) leading to these results. 
  • Appreciate the honest comment.  I think the issue with the pipeline is our nations history.  Majority black middle schools and high schools are historically worse schools to attend.  We never really corrected that in '64.  Now those schools continue to cost more money and that means they continue to get worse and continue to close down or become overcrowded.  This is why people say "institutional racism".  Because its not so much "I'm not going to hire a black person." Its more the fact that kids in historically black neighborhoods aren't even given a fair chance.  Thats why programs to correct this are needed even though they seem unnecessary to most of the country.
  • I must be honest and say that I did not read the entire article but I can attest that the black community has a better chance of getting a job working at MS than a white or Indian male currently. I personally know multiple people that have attempted to get in at MS from the white and Indian ethnicity and they were turned down as "the quota" for those ethnicities were currently filled. At the same time, I know multiple black and hispanic males and females that did get jobs at MS when their technical and professional skills were FAR BELOW the previously mentioned white and Indian males. How is any of this OK? People should be hired based on their technical and professional skills alone; not based off of some pressure placed on companies to be diverse. It should have ZERO to do with the color of skin, no matter what way you are looking at it.
  • Should have read the entire article. He gives you the numbers/ percentages. You're making it seem as though 95% of MS workers are back.
  • Oh, and they do have the skills.
  • I never meant to imply that 95% of the folks working at MS are black and if you took it that way I apologize. I definitely DO NOT believe that. Just saying that in my personal experience with hiring inside MS, in the past couple years, it feels like a white or Indian male are at a disadvantage based on the color of their skin. I also never said that minorities do not have the skills and I believe that's a ridiculous thing to say. I know just as many minorites that are technical BEASTS as I do white people.  As to SomeDude's response below, I cannot answer why there are not more minorities in the field to begin with.. It is a very fair question but I'm not sure I understand what you are asking 100%. Are you asking why it appears that minorities aren't interested in the field?
  • Hi Lukewarmchili, I wasn't really asking a question.  I was simply agreeing with your statements above (and providing anecdotal support for them), while also pointing out that I think the article is bringing up a larger discussion than that scenario takes into account.  I'm absolutely not asking why it appears minorities aren't interested in the field because I don't believe that to be the case.  My comment was just to try and frame what I perceived to be the point of the article, nothing else.
  • I can tell you as someone who worked at MS, your first sentence just isn't the case. It would take more space than I have here to explain. As far as saying that people only should be hired based on their "professional skills alone", it's a fair goal to have. That's definitely the desired end point. But other factors should be considered; please see the 2nd paragraph of my comment above, which applies to any market segment in any country and within a country. Without some measure of cultural and ethnic diversity, group-think and isolation occur, which is ultimately corrosive to a company's results and its culture. As an extreme but important example, it's why H&M clothier approved an advert in Africa that featured a black child in a "monkey" hoodie. I've seen much more subtle examples of this kind of group-think at Microsoft on matters that affect race, but fortunately there were usually people who redirect and point things out.
  • Required disclaimer:  I work for MS.  I don't have anything to do with hiring or any direct impact to any of the content mentioned here.  My views are mine and not Microsoft's.   Lukewarmchili   I think you are both right and completely missing the point.   I think you're right that if interviews came up and it was down to 2 candidate: me vs. cloned-me-but-now-minority the cloned me would be given an individual job.  Anecdotally I recently referred a qualified person for a position.  First question was: Is this person a minority?  When they found out he wasn't they asked if there was anyone else I could try and recommend.  They weren't against giving him an interview, but were openly and obviously disappointed.  Is that right?  Is that OK?  At the end he decided not to interview for unrelated reasons, but I have no reason to believe he wouldn't have been given a fair shot.  Still, there's some truth to what you say.   I also think you're completely missing the point of the article.  A lot of what Jason's talking about isn't about a hypothetical me vs. me-but-minority.  It's asking why there aren't more me-as-minorities in the first place.  That's an entirely fair question and discussion point.   I work at a remote site out of state from Redmond/Seattle.  My state is predominantly white and there are a pretty high number of hispanics, but very few black people.  I'd like to think that black people would be treated the same as everyone else here, but it doesn't seem to be the case.  Anecdotally (again) I have a buddy who works for a local police department.  The city he works for has some nice areas with people who are well off and established.  He said that 2 - 3 times a week the department will get a call about a "suspicious person" wandering the neighborhood.  He said a lot of the time it's a black kid walking to a white friend's house after school in one of the upscale neighborhoods.  The worst part is due to the fact that it was called in by a citizen they're required to investigate, which means stopping the kid and asking what he's doing.  He knows that's probably feeding into the feeling that if you're black you're getting targetted by police, and he's generally apologetic about it in the first place, but at the end of the day some 16 or 17 year old kid just found out he had to talk to a police officer simply for being black.  There's no way that's OK, but it's reality.   Back to my me vs. minority-me scenario, I don't think the article is about who would or should win in a faceoff in a single hiring process.  The article and discussion points are why there aren't more minority-mes to begin with, which make my hypothetical scenario so rare as to be a non-issue.  Personally I think it's a perfectly good and valid discussion to have.
  • Somedude681 I appreciate what you've contributed to the discussion. Thank you.
  • Microsoft can speak for Microsoft's hiring policies. I'm not a person of colour. I have never been judged because of the colour of my skin. I've been judged for other things, but not that.  I'm an ally. What is it I can do to help? I work in anti-discrimination civil law enforcement, and so I see and hear more than most white folk might... I encourage people not to dismiss concerns. I encourage people to understand what took place here over centuries, how it harmed, how the harm persists, and then think on what we can do to change it all. 
  • Bullshit.  There is no 'quota' in hiring at Microsoft.  Nobody has ever been turned away because they were white or Indian and the company wanted more of other ethnicities.  Anyone claiming they were told any such thing is lying, flat out.   Also, quite frankly, you are not in a position to evaluate the skills of the women and black/hispanics you are judging as being 'far below' the supposedly superior white or indian male candidates.  You do not know the job role, the experience they were after, how those candidates handled the interviews, or what the growth path for the roles is supposed to be.  There is no way as an outsider for you to make that judgement, it is one that is a product of your own biases.
  • You are wrong. Quotas are real. I don't know about Microsoft but I recently read an article about Google doing pretty much the same thing. Hiring people based on race, gender, sexual orientation just to fill the 'quotas' and to be politically correct. Google employee openly addressed that issue and was fired because he dared to tell the truth. He publicly disclosed that Google is hiring underrepresented racial or gender minorities only to fulfill 'quotas' and not because they would actually have required technical background. This is wrong and will only lead to further conflicts and further discriminations.
  • Yep, Quotas are real.  They exist at my company too.
  • "A sobering context for this request is that two-thirds of African Americans and 50 percent of Hispanics Americans see racial discrimination as a major issue in the tech industry" What are some examples of this discrimination?
  • Coming up in healthcare as a black person, I had to work from the right people in order to move up the corporate food chain. I've always been interested in technology at a young age and I think that is part of the missing piece when it comes to careers. Had I not been into computers and taking things a part... probably would never consider it when I got older. But I didn't know many, if I can even recall one, black kids on my side of town remotely interested in technology outside of video games. Had I not gone to school 30 miles away in the "better" area, I probably might not have ever met any in school. One other issue that I don't think is race-related is that when you leave high school, the knowledge of what jobs are out these is really not available aside from what people you know tell you. The job I have now, I never knew existed. Had I known, I may have worked towards it sooner but nobody in my family would have been able to tell me. I think schools need to do a better job of career development and less focus on useless, general education. And speaking of useless general education, I don't know if it is just my industry but I've heard the phrase "it doesn't matter that you have a bachelors, everyone does so who cares" every place I've worked. I dropped out of college the first time and now that I'm back I feel like I'm suckered into debt just because people "think you should have one." I'm all for people learning what they need to learn but unnecessary requirements for jobs that don't need a degree is also limited candidates. Yes, some professions require a degree but not all, even in tech. This belief that a degree makes one more qualified is outdated. Companies need better hiring practices and ability assessments. I've wanted to write about tech but I'm not a professional writer and there really is no avenue to start. I will just read Jason's articles and swap my face on his picture.
  • "I've wanted to write about tech but I'm not a professional writer and there really is no avenue to start. I will just read Jason's articles and swap my face on his picture." Seek out smaller sites and ask them if you can submit guest posts or become a contributor. Get some work under your belt and learn the tools. That's what I've done, though I have no desire to write as my real job. Keep at it and you'll find somewhere that's interested in getting a few extra articles a month.
  • I completely agree with you in regards to the college degree statements you made! Once I got out of college and landed my first IT job in the managed services field, i learned more in the first couple months than i had my entire time in college.
  • I appreciate this kind of articles. Mostly, when you are talking of something vrey specific to the US society, I don't read it because I don't understand it but this is one of the issues I am always interested in. How do you see the participation of other minrotiy communities in the US in mainstream tech, like Indians? I don't have any numbers, but I feel Indians are over-represented in the US tech industry. What do you think about it? 
  • Nitish_KSharma I think it's great to see Indians and other races represented in tech.  More importantly to see them in leadership positions.  Indians filled a gap in tech and took advantage of it.  Hopefully other cultures will use this as an example to follow.
  • Here we go again... We've all seen what these programs lead to. What I wonder is: Why is it so important to factor race into the job market and hire peoeple for being black or for being white? There's barely any racism left in America. In other countries around the world, it's a different story. But hiring people in whole or in part for their skin color is going to deepen racial tension because of people who were cheated of an opportunity (or unfairly given one) due to race. This article gives me the feeling Google announced they said they would do just that, and many employees got hurt. All I'm saying is, please don't worry about diversity. Things will sort themselves out.
  • Barely any racism left? Hmm, I don't know how you gathered that.
  • Pairadyce, he must not understand what it's like to be followed around a store when you go in to buy something. Or like this time I ask a black guy I knew if he wanted to go to a party with us. He said "no because everyone will be coming up to him and ask him if he's selling weed". He didn't even smoke weed but that when I understood that racism may not be outward hatred but it's still there underneath.
  • The article never said people should be hired based on their race. Why did you make that assumption?
  • "Microsoft's Blacks Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a partnership between Africans at Microsoft and Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) designed to advance Microsoft's global diversity strategy. The more than 800 employee group sponsors an annual BAM Minority Student Day."
    I for one subscribe to the idea of not judginy by race, and providing services to employees regardless. Why have black-only groups and white-only groups?   "The group also provides employee and college mentoring and helps implement corporate diversity plans." How exactly are they achieving those plans? The answer seems quite obvbious to me. Remembeer the context this company and others do in these "diversity" programs.     "This is a reality that if addressed, like blacks in tech, would add diversity and perspective that would benefit the industry." How exactly would that happen? I mean, are black and white people really that different? I thought the only thing that seperates us indefinetely was out skin color. It's not like we're that different culturally in the USA. Even culturally, how would that change the tech industry?   I got no problems with black people. I'm just stating that before I am accused. Like I said before, equal treatment is key to eliminating that shambles of systemic racism that remain.
  • But let's fall all over ourselves to make sure white women get their opportunity. In this larger multinational engineering firm I used to work for, I joined the companies Yammer and was checking out their Diversity page. There was myself and one woman from Atlanta who were black in the group. The rest were white women and homosexual white men. Not a single Asian, Hispanic or Aboriginal. It was then that i started to see what corporate diversity really looked like. This is company with a middle eastern male CEO too. Many changes in perspective are needed before this gets better. In the meantime i am going to work my ass off and prove all the bs stereotypes wrong.
  • How do you know the men were homosexual?
  • Self identification, that's usually the best way to go about it.
  • I just don't fully understand why people would hire based on race rather than on skill. The goal is money for any company. Racism would destroy any comapny. Are you certain these companies have different racial compositons because of racism?
  • Yes. The goal is money. Do all races of people spend their cash on tech. Yes they do. Why do you companies such as MSFT go to those lengths to promote diversity? So they can be seen and bought as companies for all races of people. You cant have it both ways. The company needs diversity to grow but then people complain that choosing people based in their race, which is what you are claiming, has a negative impact on their ability to make this profit. Doesnt make a huge lot of sense.
  • I don't buy products based on how many minorities work for that Company.  I buy based on the product they are selling.
  • Thanks for the article Jason.  I am a black civil engineer and I think a major issue is education.  I grew up in public schools and went to a catholic high school and learned immediately the different levels of education.  The city school has outdated books and curriculums while the nice school a mile down the road is top in the state.  Our public school system was never really desegregated and there isnt really an equal opportunity in education.  Also, contrary to popular belief, schools that perform badly cost more money to run than schools that are well off.  All of this means that bad schools in poor neighborhooods continue to get worse and generation after generation continues to be left behind.  So, I hope people understand that yes we've come a long way, but our nations history is what is ultimately still holding us back.  This is why compassion and humility is more important than intelligence.  It takes compassion to understand the true nature of oppression.  Thanks again.
  • You're welcome and thank you Mar_kis🙂
  • Thank you, Jason. This was a good read on a very important topic.
  • You're welcome Nelle. Thanks for reading and feel free to share.
  • As a former Microsoft employee of 10 years, I know from personal experience that Microsoft goes out of its way to push "affirmative action" initiatives.  I was repeatedly told by some managers that HR held a number of promotions specifically for "non-white and female" employees, even though their performance didn't warrant promotion.  On multiple occasions, I was passed over for higher positions and was pointedly told by the hiring manager that it was because I was a white male and that HR was pushing them to hire a female or minority.  One former (female) manager took me aside and told me that in her opinion, if I was female and/or a minority, with my abilities, I could easily have been a general manager or a VP by that time but was being held back because of affirmative action. The bottom line is, regardless of whether people think it's right or wrong, Microsoft has gone out of its way to give advantages to minorities.
  • Thanks for the honest comment.  As a black civil engineer, I get the sense that companies are being forced to take on the wrong side of the equation. I think the problem that tech companies and the larger U.S. society in general have is that we need to invest in our failing schools (that are mostly minority schools due to U.S. history).  We never attempted to make minority schools equal after desegregation.  If we invest when they are kids and teens then this large unequal dispairity can finally be addressed more fairly for everyone.  I'm not saying Microsoft doesnt invest in our schools but, I do believe we often forget why 'affirmative action' exists in 2018 because we dont hear people saying the n-word anymore.  Its more so about our unadressed history. Of course, this is more for race.  Gender is a different beast imo.
  • A person should solely be hired on their merits, their abilities, temperment and the ability to work with others. These are tangible and enables a descalation of conflict and creates harmony. Sadly though due to lack of empathy certain processes are put in place that create a bubble thus pushing conflict further down the road. However, larger the corporation the greater instances of petty office politics as the probablity of it occuring increases. This is systemic of a greater problem and that is allocation of resources, if you are better off you have better access to resources whereas if you are worse off you do not have such an access to resources. Therefore it becomes it's not what you know but who you know. This is fundamentally true in all aspects of life and is not isolated to any particular region, never the less the US is the prime example of wealth inequality and policies set to bias against individuals in a community. Therefore any company engaged in such actions described in your comment is a sympton of the problem, concentration of wealth and opportunity towards a select few. There is a vast imbalance created by a few to ensure they retain this "way of life" or rather "privelege". Look not at the result but the cause, and that is wealth inequality.  
  • Maybe that was the excuse they gave you for not being good enough to be one of the 8 out of 10 white males in leadership. In leadership often times it isn’t about pure performance.  It’s relationships, nepotism, or sometimes just a mandate to balance the team.  If a position is open and there are 3 people who are borderline, why not give someone who is different a chance to bring fresh ideas to the table?  That benefits the entire company and may lead to more profits.  Take color or gender out and it could be bring in someone younger or from a different part of the country or socioeconomic background who didn’t get the best training but could be a future rock star.
       
  • Good post. Of course, there will always be the comment that you are complaining and everything is right in the world, and you are being a baby, but you know the experience you've had.  In the current climate of the country, your reality is closer than 1 or 2 comments that say different.  It will always be easier for some to deflect what you are trying to get across because it's just not what they want to see because it threatens the bubble they are comfortable existing in. What can you do?  Again, great read.  Keep it up.
  • Thanks for the support lebeau32.🙂
  • Wow, I grew up in a family that at times, didn't have money for food.  Neither of my parents graduated college, but my mother taught me that getting an education was the most important thing I could do, so despite wanting to drop out and help financially, I stuck it through high school (still worked part-time), got turned down by the college of my choice, maybe because I wasn't good enough, or maybe because someone more racially diverse with the same grades or slightly lower was given the slot, but I'll never know.  So I went to a community college without any family financial support and no access to racially diverse scholarships like the ones Microsoft is offering.  I worked full-time, and went to school full-time, and on the last week of school I would get up for work at 5 am got to work, go to school, do homework, work on my senior project till 3 am and do it all again the next day.  I graduated and every time I applied for a job but didn't get it, I had to wonder, was it because I wasn't the right color for their diversity driven goals?  I got the job, worked hard and now make a decent living as a Senior Software Developer.  But I need to check my privilege.  Feels like the pendulum has swung a little too far to the left.  Please stop crying racial prejudice.
  • You're an adult, think like one.
  • Not a valid comment, no sources, no proof, no validity.  If you feel that what I've said is incorrect, point it out and offer proof to the contrary.  Thats how adults handle disagreements...
  • Trevorchadwick it seems like you are the one screaming racia prejudice.  Poverty knows no color.  Saying you possibly have been denied opportunities because all things being equal, someone had a different color is insane! You don’t know the qualifications of those applicants. You may have been poor and it may not feel fair to you that out of 10 spots maybe 2 will go to a minority or woman all things being equal, but how fair was it to be denied the opportunity to compete because of the color of your skin?   Today resumes still get passed over because someone sees a “ghetto name”. Or if people look at a picture of a black person’s linkedin profile and  assume you have made it through college or the workforce not because you worked hard, but rather just had “affirmative action”.     Blacks were denied entry into mainstream colleges until 50 years ago, which meant that by and large you had no blacks in white collar positions in America until 30-40 years ago. How then can someone move from lower class to middle class if they cant get a better paying job?   Its a much different story than a European immigrant from the 1900’s.  
  • Those are very valid points.
  •  blazewon22, I'm painfully aware that poverty knows no color.  And saying it is far from insane when it's a fact.  You can be denied entry to a college because someone with similar qualifications happens to be a different color than you, fact.  Diversity programs take money, man-power, and slots from other people do they not?  Instead of attempting boost someone because of the color of their skin, let's boost someone because of who they are.  Such an approach would eliminate the prejudice that a person is the result of affirmative action.  As for the resumes being passed over, that is once again a generalization.  You are assuming that all of the people hiring are racist, thats not even remotely ok.  Are there racist people out there that are in charge of hiring people, for sure, is it the rule rather than the exception to the rule, no, no it's not.  You accuse huge swaths of people of racism, but can't provide any statistics or evidence to back it up.  The beauty of business is that underscoring all efforts to hire people is a pressure to get the best person for the job, that is a color-blind pressure, one that left to it's own and baring the racist exceptions to the rule, will pull people in regardless of their color or "ghetto name".  With regards to getting the better paying job, all one needs to do in this country is go to work, show initiative, and work harder than the next guy, and if, after a year, you don't get the recognition and increase in pay, move to another company.  There is no where in this world that has more wage mobility for people, than here in the U.S. and that goes for all races.  (feel free to look it up)  So while it may have been true 30 or 40 years ago, it is not true today. Lastly, you imply that I'm screaming racial prejudice, when in fact, I just stated my reality.  All the things stated previously are real, they aren't some figment of my imagination, I am at a disadvantage to all other races when it comes to college entrance.  I am at a disadvantage to the scholarships available simply because I'm the wrong color.  I am at a disadvantage to any company that is looking to hire a more "diverse" workforce.  You didn't in any of your points refute that these are a reality.  I only shared what I felt to be a personal (almost took it down because I don't like people knowing the difficulties of my past) picture of the flip side of the diversity coin.  I offer it as a reminder that sometimes ideas with good intentions can sometimes have unintended consequences.
  • A complex issue to be sure, but I see a lot of symptoms described here without providing tangible evidence of the claimed cause. I also see some of the stats being used a bit dishonestly. For example, most of the article points the finger at whites as being over-represented in tech (and at the top they certainly are), to the theoretical detriment of blacks. It is noted that Microsoft only has 4% black employees vs the 13% black US population. Later though, there is a similar, seemingly negative stat: whites received about 65% of STEM degrees vs only 6% for blacks. Here though, the US population stat for whites is not provided. The percentage of whites in America is... roughly 65%. So on average white Americans are almost exactly represented on par with population in STEM businesses (or at least only very slightly over-represented). So what ethnic groups make up the remaining percentages? If I had to guess (and this is only a guess) I'd bet it's east Asians and Indians, despite those groups making up roughly 3% of the US population. Is it fair to use population stats only when it suits the argument? I don't think so. It's a shame because I think parts of the article have fair merit, but this type of cherry picking only sets the conversation back.
  • I didn't come here to make a post related to racism or anything but in the end someone will always want to twist words and make peoples thoughts and concerns into something wrong so I'm just going to put it out there that I'm Asian and partly mixed with europian ancestry but aside from all that, I know that companies try to promote their racial diversity and all those "equality" things and what not; but when they hire someone who is less qualified than another who is more qualified; who can be in this case a "white male" who obviously has gone through pretty much no racial diversity scholarships to get their "not so free" education and suffer a life time to get educated (which I myself have been through as a person living in a country where mine is the majority and nobody gives a **** about being mixed) then just get denied for a job even though he is suited for it because the company that he applied to decides to show how racially diverse they are by hiring a minority who may not be qualified than he is ?. Why am I making this post, some would wonder but I went through all of the comments below and read most of them (yes sometimes I do things that even I don't understand because i'd like to see the point of it), The real issue here is not about providing jobs and showing "equality" which is only going to trigger more issues, it's about coming out of that tight space and educating oneself to the point; where they too are qualified/suited for the job included that the gorvernment provides proper schooling for all races within the nation. in reality, there is no such thing as minority except there are some people of all races that believe they are the majority or should I say bullies?. I'm a neutral person I don't take sides based on peoples color, there is a right way and there is a wrong way. Hiring people based on race isn't going to fix anyone's problems, it's only going to make it worse.  As for Jason's notion in this article, I see that it has a lot of facts, as usual, being trustworthy but it has unfortunately left out the main reason of why every one of many races are in this corner, it is the lack of equality when it comes to sharing knowledge which is the key issue here and while I hate to say it, another factor could be the cultural influence as most of us are always infused in it and while it isn't a bad thing but as it may play a part of our lives and may or may not limit us from improving from who we are as people, in the end of the day equality is not something that exist when everyone believes it must exist, it is something that exist when people stop looking at the cover of books and try to grasp the knowledge inside of it, and realize that there is no real difference, the only thing that stops us is ourselves.     
  • I remember when I was younger and me and a friend, a black friend went to an affluent neighborhood to pick up his Super Nintendo. When we got there, there was a cop car patrolling the area. They sorta profiled us when we got in. Profiled as in they gave us a 👀, but let us continue our journey. We laughed about it. But on our way out, we saw it was no laughing matter. On our way in we had an empty backpack. On our way out, it was full. So, I mean a Latino and an African American in a white neighborhood going in with an empty backpack and coming out with a full one can only mean one thing right...we went there to rob the place... At least according to the cops that questioned us. Mind you, we weren’t the typical pants on the ground stereotype. My friend actually wore pretty tight jeans for the time. To be fair to the cops, they weren’t extremely rude. But they did make us open the backpack. Of course, most people may say we looked suspicious. But if we were white, would they have done that? So, do I think racism is real? No, of course not, it’s all a figment of my imagination. That said, I do believe there is no better place than America, to be a minority. There are still issues, sure. I still don’t find it fair that some schools are better funded than others. Everyone should have a right to an equal education imo regardless of income. After all, it costs more to incarcerate than to educate. So, why not work on education instead of lining the pockets of for profit prisons.
  • Hmmm. I can honestly say workplace inequality does exist. I work in a tech company and I have witnessed it. Perfect example qualified black person with great credentials vs a white person who has no degree, and had 0 experience for the position they were both going for which was supervisor. White person gets the job. I know both employees very well don't have any issues with either one. We all work in the same department. Our former supervisor (white) even stated to the Director that the black person was the better employee. But when that happen I started to see the company completely different. It happens believe or not. Sure companies can say they want to be diverse,  but  it's like oh when it comes to position of power diverse is out the window. I don't see any black managers. I know of maybe 1 or 2 out of the 2500 people on that campus. 
  • God I hate people who only think about the color of someones skin rather than who they are as a person. Acting like the percentage of race A doing one thing while race B does more of something else matters. Stats don't mean a company is guility of doing anything which is what you are drawing conclusions from.
  • "You hate people?" Not a great way to start off a rebuttal to a piece that focuses on the inequalities toward blacks in tech.
    Now if you look at the scope of the whole piece it's not just based on stats alone but the irrefutable legacy of centuries of slavery, racism and inequity in America which the Civil Rights movement didn't begin to address the overt manifestations of until less than 60 years ago.
    Now, it's naive to think that the entrenched legacy of those centuries of inequities in society, education wealth distribution where familial, social, corporate, business relationships have been systemically established with an unequal balance towards whites(generally speaking) would suddenly be resolved in just the few decades since the end of the 1960's Civil Rights movement.
    Now, though you profess to "hate people" who acknowledge this reality, Microsoft also acknowledges it. That's why it invests millions in outreach efforts to expose minority communities to opportunities that are otherwise less visible in those communities, and provides scholarships to help give them access to these opportunities and invests in STEM outreach efforts in these communities all in recognition of these inequities.
    The stats presented here are within the context of the larger reality and reflect the reality, they are not the basis for thr claim, but a reflection of it.
  • Yes I hate lots of people of many races and it has nothing to do with the race they identify as but rather what they say. Every race has people in poverty needing help, focusing on a race of people because of the past instead of those truly in need of help is idiotic. I would rather businesses focus on contributing to all struggling Americans rather than discriminating against your fellow Americans who struggle the same as everyone. It also doesn't matter how many of whatever race a company has, it just does not matter. If it does matter I truly believe you are probably racist which is why I don't like modern liberals, they lean towards the opposite of what the king stood for which is for all people to be seen not by their color but who they are as a person.
  • Hate in any form is wrong. And the point that you're missing is that the numbers are a reflection of a deeper problem that has present day implications and is not based only on the past as my comment above, the piece itself, and my other comments in this thread attempts to convey. Its a difficult topic to discuss because we would all love for the affects of racism in America to be just a part of our sordid history. The fact, however, is that though there has been progress there is still work to be done.
    And in response to what King stood for, had a racists bullet not killed him in his prime, his message of love based on the inherent value and dignity God gave all of us, I'm sure he would have continued to spread through social and civic activism to address the inequities that persist today, that we see and I highlighted ever so slightly here. He knew that the legislation that addressed overt and institutional racism did not legislate hate and bias, intentional and unintentional, out of peoples hearts. And he knew that the work would need to continue to undo the inequities that centuries of slavery and hate have made an entrenched and intrinsic part of American culture, economy, wealth distribution, education, industry and opportunities.
    That's why even long after his death, Dr Martin Luther Kings wife and children along with others, continued to the fight (even to this day) because they were/are aware of the inequities their father/husband fought against and realized the problem, with the end of the Civil Rights Movement, was addressed, progress was made, but it was not yet resolved. And to your point of liberals, though you don't explicitly state you believe I am one, you suggest that is your belief. My morality and beliefs are not founded on the transient and shifting morales and values of any political party Democratic (Liberal) or Republican (Conservative.) I base my beliefs on immutable values not changing social norms. Finally, a visit to Microsoft's inclusion site will show you that the company is reaching out to a range of various racial groups, not just African Americans. This being Black History Month my focus was on African Americans in tech.
  • I don't believe the percentage of a race in any company matters and trying to focus on giving benifits to one race over another is a form of discrimination. I truly believe their movement has already been resolved, they took inequality out of government. What I believe rich liberals and liberal companies like Microsoft should be donating towards is not Africans but all Americans living in poverty regardless of the reasons they ended up there which has nothing to do with Microsoft even if they contribute funds to it.
  • Hi anon, I addressed the point that percentage of African Americans in tech is a reflection of a deeper problem, not THE problem in of itself. If the deeper problem is addressed the derivative effect of low representation of African American in tech would also be addresses. Heres an excerpt from the peice where I address that EVEN before getting to the numbers: "It is impossible to address this topic honestly without acknowledging the sensitive issue of race and inequality. Raw data reflecting a company's employment percentages for race, money spent on outreach efforts, or internal inclusion programs and strategies is valuable, but it represents shallow data points that merely scratch the surface of a complex issue.
    The real challenge includes nuances of intentional and unintended bias and the long-term cultural, social and personal effects of centuries of slavery and institutional racism on wealth distribution, access to opportunities and education."
  • Jason, as a very proud professional African American, I can't thank you enough for this "candid discussion." I know all too well the glass ceilings we sometimes face navigating in certain industries. I haven't posted on here in a very long time, but I was not going to pass up the opportunity to thank you for having the courage to have this discussion. I also want to thank Windows Central for supporting your decision to do so. Well done!!!
  • Thank you so much tennisfan. I appreciate that expression of support. Please feel free to share this piece with others.🙂
  • All the time terms such as 'African American' or 'Latino American' or 'Black History Month', are used in America there will always be division. Why not just use the term American? I'm British and there is no such thing as 'African British' or 'Chinese British' you're just British. Take heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua for example, he is seen just as British in the same way David Beckham is, anyone trying to label him as 'African British' would be ridiculed and held with the contempt they deserve. The same goes for the nonsense that is 'Black History Month'. There is only history, just teach that and teach it truthfully.
  • Hi Duffman I agree that we should all just see one another as human beings and not based on the color of our skin, ethnicity or geographical origin. In fact , if we go back far enough we all have the SAME origin😉 Sadly the intentional decisive actions of those who perpetuated slavery and racism in America planted roots mental and emotional division between the races the legacy of which we are still battling. When a group of people are taken forcefully from their homeland and there is an intentional and strategic endeavor to attack and attempt to eradicate thier very identity by systemically cutting them off from thier culture, forcing them to accept names that are not their own, forcing through generations them to accept a new language, and in time forgetting their own, and dehumanizing them through rapings, castrations, hangings, boiling, whipping, separating families, sexually abusing a mans wife in front of him to convey to the woman her man and protector has no power and to emasculate the man (which was reflected in modern times in the movie Crash). A legacy where people were listed as cargo, not by names, "bucks" and "winches" and an accepted system where even after slavery blacks were hanged, murdered, and thier communities receive a poorer support in education and more. And still during all of this blacks made contributions to the world through the sciences, math, inventions, literature and more. And despite a list of contributions, if you ask most people about an influential lack person who contributed to the world, most can only recall those who fought for equality like King or Rosa Parks. As if the core of black contributions to the world are summed up as efforts to be treated fairly. I agree history IS history, and there is no separate history for whites and blacks. But sadly the way history has been taught, which perpetuates the legacy of a lesser worth of blacks, is that the focus of blacks in history highlights their fight against oppression, which is a valuable lesson, but blacks have done more than that. When black and white students hear about Thomas Edison and the light bulb, why is it that Lewis Latimer a black man, is not an integral part of that lesson. It was his patented method of producing carbon filaments used in light bulbs that made them practical by allowing them to burn for hours rather than just the minutes Edison achieved. Why is it when we hear of the US efforts to send men into space we hear nothing of Katherine Goble and other women of color recently highlighted in the film hidden figures. These are just two examples of a list that literally goes on and on. But black children and white in their formative years when learning identity and a forming a worldview, hear little of what black have done for the world other than right for equality. And this education is set within the context of the visible disparities they still see in the communities in which they live. You add this to the inability for most black Americans to trace thier roots back to an ancestor coming here through Ellis island with a record of a name, and a history of family going back generations, where thier names are usually names of a slave owner or a white family from history, they legacy of shattered identity persists. And the biased retelling of history exacerbates it. Your references Black History Month as nonsense. I say that the 28 sometimes 29 days where some blacks and some whites will turn thier attention to the contributions of blacks in history that for the rest of the 300 plus days goes ignored is a necessary effort that does SOMETHING to draw our attention to a systemic problem in our culture and education system that needs to be rectified where history is taught without bias. I agree that history is a single continuum of simultaneous events and contributions made by all people. Until it ia taught as such, Black History Month has its place.
  • Duffman , unfortunately America has made this division based on skin color.  Black Americans were segreated until the the 1960's.  America also has a history of celebrating its diversity of cultures and Italians, polish, jewish and others receive these distinctions as well.  Until our government stops classifying and categorizing race the country won't stop.   However Britain definitely does classify its citizens.  Muslims and African ex-pats deal with this.
  • Some people always see race, gender, age, etc. and try to divide everyone up into groups, then question why not all groups are equal (or focus on one group in particular). Guess what, no two people on the planet are equal and to imply that the aggregate of any artificial group formed is going to be equal to another group is simply insane.
  • Maybe the population of blacks in tech is so low because the population of blacks going into tech as opposed to other fields is so low.  That's not inequality, that's the law of probability. Why are there ZERO black kids in my kids' lego robotics class at school?  The flyer welcomes all and the media resource teacher, who is black, is one of the two teachers who spear-headed the project.  Yet, ZERO black kids signed up which is disheartening.  That's not the fault of the tech industry, that's the fault of culture which starts at home.
  • I'm not sure if you read the article JLZimmerman, but I address the point of the long-term impact of slavery and racism in our culture affecting the visibility and access to various opportunities. I won't reatate the points in this comment, but I encourage you to read some of my other comments (and revisit the piece) which go into a little more depth and provide what I feel is a sound response to you statement. Thanks
  • Honestly, jlzimmerman I would agree with you.  My black kids didn't sign up for lego robotics because they had other interests.  They do do an hour of code but are more interested in becoming game designers,  lawyers, marketing execs, and stock traders.  Computers are cheaper than a pair of Jordans these days.  I'd be more interested to know if blacks or other minority populations being denied jobs, salary parity, or executive positions at MS versus whether there is access.
  • Education in America needs to be a Right for All not a Privilege for a few. Only then will every one have an equal opportunity at success. Some people don't get to choose Not to go to school, the choice gets made for them.
  • Hey Jason, great editorial as usual.  As a Black American (married to an Ugandan so she has a strong opinion on the term African-American) working for a valley company  i’ll add my thoughts.     On Blacks in Tech: Just because the number of Blacks in tech companies are low doesn’t mean they have been discriminated against for the opportunities for leadership or just jobs.  I’ve lived in several cities over the past 20 years where MS invested in tech labs, coding workshops, etc.  You can’t force someone to drink the water.  The same could be said about almost any white collar industry.  There isn't a 1:1 ratio of 13% Black Americans to 13% surgeons, defense attorneys, plumbers, etc.     On Blacks in Boardrooms: This does have some systemic challenges as we didn’t start living in diverse neighborhoods in masse until the 70’s.  A large part of being on a corporate board is relationships. Some are formed in college, some in master’s programs, some on the golf course or apparently hot tubs (Brotopia - https://view.yahoo.com/show/good-morning-america/clip/61055099/author-slams-the-silicon-valley-boys-club). It’s also people who have put in hard work moving up the ladder.  Saytella wasn’t in the “in-crowd” but worked his way up.  So did John Thompson (you incorrectly put John Thomas) who put in work over 30 years in tech.  Learning to play the corporate game is as important as getting a book education.   On Blacks as Bloggers: Again i think you are putting the chicken before the egg.  There are folks out there who choose to blog such as Kelsey Hightower, but a lot of folks who are first generation college grads in tech are choosing to focus on white collar careers that will change their families economic status versus a “ tech journalism” career.  It’s a cost benefit issue.  There also is an upfront expense to becoming a good vlogger like MKBHD.      Finally just because we are Black doesn’t mean we all share the same interests, hobbies, or may not even like each other.  However, we need to learn to network and share opportunities to those qualified to work.  I’ve gotten most of my jobs from referrals.  Message me for my contact info if you’d like to talk further.  
  • Funny how people in this thread are daying they were denied opportunities because of affirmative action but never acknowledge neoptism and the role it plays in less qualified people getting ahead.  Less qualified people get into colleges, jobs, loans, etc based on who they know or who their parents know all the time.  
  • Hello Jason - Thanks for calling this out. Tech companies desperately need more diversity especially better representation from the black community. I actually think this is an easy problem to solve but will take ~4 years to get the pipeline going. IMO, the solution is to have mentorship programs in the black communities to encourage folks of all ages to get deep into STEM and software development. I think it is possible to get the blacks-in-tech percentage from 4% today to over 20% over the next 5 to 10 years. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, others need to share this obligation to make this happen quickly.