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What Kind of Progress Was Made in 2016 in Terms of Diversity and Inclusion?


What Kind of Progress Was Made in 2016 in Terms of Diversity and Inclusion?

A variety of companies and organizations are looking back at 2016 in terms of diversity and inclusion. Was progress made? It depends on who you ask and where you look. In some cases, the results are mixed. Here’s a look at the status of diversity and inclusion at Microsoft, Apple and Hollywood.


In a letter posted in November for employees and the public, Microsoft’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Gwen Houston offers a snapshot of Microsoft’s employee population. Noting that there is no easy path to achieve successful outcomes, Houston shares Microsoft’s “story of modest progress”:

  • A point in time measurement shows the representation of women has declined from the previous year from 26.8 percent to 25.8 percent. The decline, she says, was related to restructuring in a facility, which had a high representation of women. Outside of direct production, however, the representation of women increased by 0.4 percent.
  • In terms of hiring trends, women represent 27.7 percent of all new employees, almost 2 percent over the company’s current representation.
  • Microsoft’s findings show modest gains in the representation of racial and ethnic minorities, which Houston says give reason for optimism.
  • A total of 33.6 percent of new employees hired directly after college were women or ethnic minorities.
  • Women comprise more than 36 percent of all company interns, and in the United States, racial and ethnic minorities represent 56 percent of all interns hired last year.
  • Microsoft’s board of directors has long enjoyed a diverse makeup, with Houston noting that five of 11 members are women or ethnic minorities.


In its fall diversity report, according to engadget, Apple says it is “steadily attracting more and more underrepresented talent.” Here’s a look at its findings:

  • Apple’s workforce is 68 percent male and 32 percent female, a minor shift from 69 percent male and 31 percent female in 2015.
  • Women account for 37 percent of its new hires, a slight increase from 35 percent in 2015.
  • Underrepresented minorities make up 27 percent of new hires, compared to 24 percent in 2015.
  • Overall, 54 percent of Apple’s new hires represent minorities.
  • Apple’s leadership teams have not improved. The number of white executives increased to 67 percent from 54 percent a year ago.
  • Compared with national statistics, Apple’s gender pay gap was miniscule at 99.6 percent, but that has been erased and was publicly announced. “Women earn one dollar for every dollar male employees earn. And underrepresented minorities earn one dollar for every dollar white employees earn,” Apply reports.


Earlier this year, the criticism of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was harsh, complete with a Twitter hashtag: #OscarsSoWhite.

The criticism and lack of diversity among Oscar nominees hit a nerve, according to a June 30 article in Fortune, when the Academy announced a plan to double membership of women and people of color by 2020. However, the article notes that it’s a small increase, from 8 percent to 11 percent. In the new group, 41 percent of the invitees are people of color and 46 percent are women.

The breakdown of the Academy before this new membership drive was far from diverse, with 94 of the members white and a significant majority with a median age of 62, according to details gathered from the Los Angeles Times. The article further notes that the membership makeup seemingly led to a situation in which people of color were overlooked for award nominations.

It’s always good to look outside of your own business to consider the issues, strategies, tactics, goals and challenges of other organizations. As in the case of the Academy, acknowledging that an issue exists is progress. What kind of strides are you making?

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