Microsoft’s recent initiative to increase diversity has caused some concerns with Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) that race is being unfairly considered in selection decisions. In June 2020, Microsoft pledged to double the number of Black and African American managers and executives by 2025.
This public commitment prompted an inquiry from OFCCP, seeking to ensure the pledge does not violate racial discrimination laws. As a Federal Contractor, Microsoft is subject to regulations including Executive Order 11246 to ensure all employment decisions are made without regard to race/gender or any other protected category. The Executive Order requires the company to take affirmative efforts to promote the hiring and advancement of protected groups and as a covered federal contractor, the company is required to prepare annual affirmative action plans. As part of these plans, they are to identify any areas of underutilization. Where there is underutilization, contractors must implement targeted outreach and recruitment. While contractors are required to take affirmative efforts to promote the hiring and advancement of protected groups, considering race in selection decisions or setting quotas for hiring violates racial discrimination laws.
The inquiry from OFCCP is investigating whether the targets set by Microsoft indicate that race will be a determining factor in selection decisions. Through a post on Microsoft’s blog, Dev Stahlkopf, Vice President and General Counsel, denies this pledge violates any laws and states Microsoft is actively working with the OFCCP to resolve the inquiry. Microsoft maintains they always select the most qualified candidate, and the targets are simply goals set to implement targeted outreach and recruitment, develop training programs, and increase opportunities in local communities.