Microsoft Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: 2021 Partner Progress Report

Microsoft has released a Racial Equality Initiative progress report for 2021. The report points to multiple areas of progress on the partner front. Still, Microsoft shareholders ($MSFT) recently voted for more transparency at the company, in a bid to determine the effectiveness of Microsoft’s workplace sexual harassment policies.

Some background: Microsoft in June 2020 outlined various commitments designed to address racial injustice and inequity. The move kicked off the company’s Racial Equity Initiative (REI). Fast forward to December 2021, and Microsoft is sharing a progress report involving banking, the supply chain and U.S. partner relationships.

Among the progress areas, according to a Microsoft statement, the company:

  • Launched the Black Partner Growth Initiative and increased the number of identified partners by more than 150 percent to date, surpassing its initial goal.
  • Invested $3 million in training programs covering financial management, tech solutions, and go-to-market readiness for all areas.
  • Created the Partner Capital Fund, which provides low-or no-interest loans, and leveraged its Partner Financing program to support short term cashflow.
  • Invested in areas where Black and African American partners are already creating impact for the business community, particularly through the Black Channel Partner Alliance (BCPA).

Still, shareholders are pushing Microsoft for more transparency from the company itself. In particular, Microsoft shareholders approved a proposal asking the board to publish a report on the effectiveness of its workplace sexual harassment policies in a rare vote of support for an activist initiative, CNBC reported in early December 2021.

The shareholder vote arrived roughly 18 months after Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates stepped down from the company’s board following a report that Gates had tried to start a relationship with an employee in 2000, prompting a board investigation, CNBC noted.

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