Report: Microsoft Discriminated Against Women

Meanwhile, Adobe reaches pay parity

Aliah D. Wright By Aliah D. Wright December 15, 2017

Did Microsoft regularly discriminate against its female technical employees when it came to pay and promotions?

Yes, according to a report commissioned by plaintiffs in a gender discrimination lawsuit against Microsoft. Conducted by Princeton economics professor Henry Farber, the report examined thousands of Microsoft employees' pay and promotions over a four-year period. It revealed that female workers in low- to mid-level jobs "received lower compensation on average than otherwise similar men," and that mid-level female technical workers were not promoted with the same frequency as their male colleagues.

A second report by Michigan State professor Ann Marie Ryan found that "Microsoft's guidelines for advancement are not clear. When companies don't make their promotion guidelines clear, it allows for decisions to be made more subjectively, which is often detrimental to women's advancement prospects," BuzzFeed News reported.

A Microsoft spokesman told the website it "strongly disagreed with the contentions in the case because data and other information is mischaracterized. We are defending the case in court."
(BuzzFeed News)

Accusations of Tech Discrimination Rampant

Other tech companies accused of gender discrimination recently include Oracle, Uber, Twitter, Qualcomm Inc., and Google.

  • In June Uber said it would make changes after a former female engineer wrote a blog post saying the ride-hailing app condoned the sexual harassment of its female employees. Several of the company's senior executives left in the aftermath.
  • Earlier this year, the Labor Department sued Oracle America, saying it paid white men more money than minorities and women in similar roles. In 2015, Twitter and Microsoft were also sued by former female employees who alleged pay discrimination.
  • Last year, Qualcomm Inc. settled a similar lawsuit brought by its former female employees for $19.5 million.
In the Google case, the women who brought the suit cite as evidence the Department of Labor's findings that there were "six to seven standard deviations between pay for men and women in nearly every job classification in 2015" at Google. The agency said there was a "one in a 100 million chance that the disparity is occurring randomly."

Recently, a California state judge dismissed the class-action claims against the search engine. Google denied that it paid its female employees less than men.

Google Wins Initial Round of Litigation

A San Francisco Superior Court judge said the suit was inappropriate because it was brought on behalf of all women who worked for Google in California. The plaintiffs have 30 days to file a new lawsuit on behalf of just those women who sued alleging pay discrimination.

An attorney for three of the women who launched the lawsuit in September said he plans to file a new one next month.

Three former female workers who were employed at Google as a software engineer, a business systems manager and a sales specialist filed the lawsuit. They claimed Google had violated California's Equal Pay Act, Unfair Business Practices Act and Fair Employment and Housing Act as well as the Fair Pay Act, which includes race and ethnicity.

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Increasing Diversity Better for the Bottom Line

Not being diverse may restrict the amount of money companies and investors can make, according to "Breaking the Mold: Investing in Racial Diversity in Tech." The report compiled data from over 106 organizations, including some of the nation's largest tech companies; Pew Research; Harvard University; and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Open Media and Information Companies Initiative (Open MIC), a New York-based nonprofit, analyzed and compiled the report.

They found companies that are more racially diverse are 35 percent more likely to have higher financial returns than the national median in their industry.

Adobe Reaches Pay Equity

Adobe Systems Inc. announced that it has reached its goal of achieving equal pay between male and female employees in the United States.

Next up: India. "Women are now making $1.00 for every $1 earned by male employees in the U.S., up from 99 cents a year ago," the software giant said in a statement.

In 2016, Adobe reviewed its pay practices and discovered its U.S. female employees were earning a penny less than their male colleagues. The software maker also said there was no wage gap between white and non-white U.S. employees. It promised last year it would reach pay parity among its employees by the end of this fiscal year.

The company said it is prepared to achieve pay equity in India in early 2018. The company has more employees in India than anywhere outside the U.S. Eighty percent of Adobe's workforce are in India and the U.S.

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