Women at Microsoft Describe Discrimination: Internal Email

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  • Dozens of technical women at Microsoft wrote internal emails describing gender discrimination.
  • Women are calling on Microsoft to correct any disparities in salaries, rewards and promotions.
  • “Right now, women are all paid equally until women who don’t prove it,” said one employee.

Women at Microsoft are using an internal email group to share allegations of gender discrimination they say they have faced at work, calling on management to close any pay or promotion gap between men and women.

Dozens of women contributed to the conversation, which has been going on since May in an internal group called Technical Women at Microsoft. The group consists of engineers, developers and other technical workers from across the company.

The chain of emails began in late May when an employee asked the women in the group how they felt about their pay compared to others. The conversation evolved into a discussion of not only pay equity, but also their experiences with what they described as cases of discrimination based on gender and race, as well as cases where they believed the management or human resources had not followed up on their complaints.

While the email channel only included comments from a few dozen of the approximately 180,000 Microsoft employees worldwide, the stories these women tell raise significant concerns for a business. whose own diversity report shows that around 77% of all technical positions are held by men.

Many women have used the thread to express their belief that men generally earn more than women at Microsoft in both base pay and bonuses.. An employee wrote in the thread that she saw a pay stub from a male colleague one level below her, in the same region, who earns tens of thousands more than her. Insider doesn’t appoint women to respect their privacy, but their identities are known to us.

“Right now, women are all paid equally until women who don’t prove it,” the employee said. “We are told to just ‘trust the system,’ in the infamous last words of Grace Hopper of Satya,” referring to CEO Satya Nadella’s comments at the 2014 Grace Hopper conference for women in tech that women should relying on “faith” in the system and “good karma” to get pay increases, rather than asking bosses what they think they deserve. Nadella then apologized for the comments.

“We actively engage with our employees and listen to them and appreciate their willingness to openly share their experiences and feelings,” said the Microsoft spokesperson. “We are proud of the progress we have made as a company in recent years to close the gap between the lived experiences of our employees and the culture to which we aspire; however, at the same time, we also recognize that there is still more work to be done. Listening to employee feedback and creating a safe space for dialogue, input and reporting is essential to our culture. “

The conversation included a discussion of microaggressions seen as being ignored or kept out of meetings, men talking about them or taking credit for their ideas, and a lack of action on their part. the share of human resources and company managers.

“The root cause of much of this ugly dynamic of firing or ignoring the women in the room too often is protecting the egos of some (no, definitely not all),” one employee wrote in thread. “Those who have the twisted belief that they deserve the technical role more than any woman or certain minorities they think are inferior and out of place here. Let’s not ignore this or soften it. that it is. “

The workplace can be especially difficult for women of color, one employee said. “Sometimes it’s like the minority women are more invisible than everyone else in the room, and yet more targeted at the same time,” the person wrote in the thread. “They have to even exist, let alone succeed. But then, of course, they’re labeled the ‘bossy’, ‘awkward’ kind.”

Some employees said they were afraid to express themselves, in particular by “reluctance to make a scene, to have a target on his back, to cause problems, etc”. or out of fear that asking for more compensation will affect their prospects. “If I had said ‘no, I’m worth more’ I might not have gotten the job,” wrote one employee.

Others responded to the thread saying they thought it wouldn’t make a difference. “Being kept out of meetings, having men on projects talking to you, or deliberately ignoring ideas are quick and efficient in their speed and subtlety,” one employee wrote in the thread.

“It’s wise for technical women to move slowly and cautiously to navigate this environment,” another person wrote in the thread. “They just don’t have the same freedom as men to demand – at least not without subtle and threatening consequences for their careers.”

Kristen Roby Dimlow, corporate vice president of human resources at Microsoft, was added to the thread and responded by encouraging women to contact higher-level managers or human resources about the issues discussed.

“Pay differences can be complicated and often nuanced,” Dimlow wrote, saying pay was based on factors such as performance, market competition, equal pay for substantially similar work and support from the workforce. Microsoft culture, as well as the role, location, and duration of the level.

Some women said they only spoke to see a lack of action on the part of human resources and company leaders. One person brought up Microsoft’s departure in part because of management’s lack of attention to correct issues. One person said going through management and HR was “futile and extremely stressful”.

“We expect all of our employees, regardless of level, role or function, to act with respect, integrity and responsibility,” said the Microsoft spokesperson. “And when someone doesn’t, we have processes in place to listen, learn and act. We also believe in equal pay for equal work and will share representation and compensation data from last year in our annual Diversity and Inclusion report this fall. . “

A Similar email chain prevalent in the company in 2019 made up of women sharing stories of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Microsoft spokesperson said that in 2020, the company took steps to shut down faster and provide more transparency in investigating allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior, and also changed its practices. hiring to ensure that candidates from diverse backgrounds are considered for open positions and to train managers. in inclusive hiring practices.

Microsoft, in its 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Report, said it had achieved equal pay for women and men in “substantially similar roles” when combined in its offices in the United States. United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan and United Kingdom. The report found that among Microsoft employees, women held only 23% of technical roles and 20% of partner and leadership roles. Its updated 2021 report is expected to be released soon.

Do you work at Microsoft or have some ideas to share? Contact reporter Ashley Stewart through the Signal encrypted messaging app (+ 1-425-344-8242) or email ([email protected]).


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