The consequences of a lack of diversity in tech can be severe. It’s why there’s reports that self-driving cars may be more likely to hit darker-skinned people and the infamous video of an automatic soap dispenser not reacting to a Black person’s hand.
Companies like Microsoft have adopted pro-diversity efforts to try rectifying that. However recently, a Quartz report revealed that some Microsoft employees are questioning whether diversity is even important — and if it’s discriminatory against white men.
In a post on Microsoft’s internal messaging board, a program manager claimed: “senior leadership is awarded more money if they discriminate against Asians and white men.”
The program manager added in a later comment, “I have an ever-increasing file of white male Microsoft employees who have faced outright and overt discrimination because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male. This is unacceptable.”
According to Quartz, multiple employees said there are two posts total, sharing those sentiments. One even suggests that women are less suited for engineering roles. Overall, the posts have gathered 800 comments, but they also highlight some of the company’s deeper issues.
Simply hiring “diverse” people isn’t enough to change a company’s culture. Microsoft can bring on more women, for example, but what does that mean when earlier this month, a leaked email thread showed a toxic culture for women?
Within the thread, numerous women shared complaints of sexual harassment and other forms of workplace misconduct. Many of the women claimed that Microsoft had done little to resolve the issues.
Microsoft is not the only tech company struggling with a toxic culture. In 2017, Google had to tangle with software engineer James Damore, who also criticized the company’s diversity efforts. Damore was fired after he published an internal memo claiming female tech workers aren’t as good as men.
Google also had issues this year, when the company’s 2019 diversity report noted that Black women weren’t “experiencing Google as positively as other groups.”
If tech companies are actually committed to improving diversity — and not just trying to hire people to make themselves look better — then that has to mean taking a deep look into employee culture and attitudes toward it.