Women's share of Microsoft jobs falls again, so it's tying top pay to diversity

Microsoft is again pointing to the Nokia layoffs to explain a second successive annual fall in the percentage of women on its staff.

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Microsoft chief diversity & inclusion officer Gwen Houston: "A strategic business decision made in the longer-term interests of the company resulted in a reduction of jobs held by female employees outside the US."

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft may not have wanted Nokia's handset business, but women from the Finnish firm helped swell the proportion of females in its ranks.

Now, with new figures showing a decline in the percentage of women employees in its workforce for the second year running, Microsoft says it's taking a number of steps, including linking executive pay to its diversity targets, to help reverse that trend.

The company's latest diversity report reveals that 25.8 percent of its global workforce are women, down from 26.8 percent last year, and from 29 percent the year before that.

As it did last year, Microsoft blamed the shrinking share of jobs held by women on its restructuring related to Nokia. The Espoo-based devices business introduced a number of non-US manufacturing jobs to Microsoft and many of these roles were held by women.

"This was the main cause of the decline in female representation at Microsoft. In short, a strategic business decision made in the longer-term interests of the company resulted in a reduction of jobs held by female employees outside the US," said Gwen Houston, Microsoft's chief diversity & inclusion officer.

The new figures are likely to be uncomfortable for Microsoft, which now trails Apple, Facebook and Google on gender diversity.

As Bloomberg reports, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made diversity a priority for Microsoft following a terrible statement that he trusted women because they never ask for a pay rise.

Nadella is supposed to be revealing a plan detailing how diversity goals will influence senior execs's annual bonuses this week.

According to Microsoft's diversity report, women workers at Microsoft in the US earn 99.9 cents at the same job title for every $1 earned by men.

Also, 27.2 percent of Microsoft's senior leadership team are now women.

Positive signs include the fact that 30 percent of Microsoft's university hires worldwide are now women. Also, Microsoft is hiring more women into engineering roles. Worldwide, the proportion of women has increased from 23.7 percent last year to 26.1 percent today.

Additionally, Microsoft says 3.3 percent of its hires into technical roles are African-American/Black hires, up from 2.5 percent last year. Hispanic/Latino hires in technical roles are up to 5.1 percent from 4.9 percent.

As well as linking senior-executive pay to making its staff more diverse, Microsoft lists nine other steps it's taking to change the balance of its workforce.

These measures include improving career development for women and racial/ethnic minorities, and launching an 'Inclusive Hiring' website to attract diverse talent.

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