Labor Department questions Microsoft and Wells Fargo hiring more black employees


        Microsoft<span class="company-name-type"> Corp.</span>


    Msft <span>-2.12%</span>


  And Wells Fargo WFC <span>-1.10%</span>


  He was approached last week by the US Department of Labor to question his plan to appoint more black employees to diversify his management ranks. 

Microsoft said the agency that oversees federal contractors is questioning whether the pledge to double the number of black managers and leaders in its American workforce by 2025 violates laws prohibiting discrimination based on federal race.

“We have every belief that Microsoft’s diversity initiative fully complies with all US employment laws,” Microsoft general consultant Dev Stahlkopf said in a blog post.

Wells Fargo promised in June to double black leaders in the bank over the next five years. It has recently received a letter from the same agency reminding the bank that it cannot discriminate on the basis of race to provide additional opportunities and this quota is prohibited.

A Wells Fargo spokesman said the bank was “committed to taking a more diversified and inclusive company and is taking action.” Numerous efforts are underway to implement the changes at all levels of the company, and we believe they follow US employment laws. ”

According to the company’s 2019 Diversity Report, Black employees represent 4.5% of Microsoft’s US workforce and less than 3% of senior roles. In Wells Fargo, black employees currently constitute 6% of senior management. Compares with about 13% of the US population.

After the murder of George Floyd in May and calls for racial equality, Microsoft and Wells Fargo were among several Kalidas companies in Germany. AG

From Silicon Valley on Facebook Inc.

Pledging to keep more black employees.

In Microsoft’s 29 letter, Craig Layan, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, said the initiative “recognizes that employment action can be taken on the basis of race.” The letter told Microsoft that there are no illegal race-based decisions to prove the action it is taking. Letter to Wells Fargo has also been given on 29th.

OFCCP is an agency within the Department of Labor tasked with protecting workers and promoting diversity at companies such as Microsoft and Wells Fargo that are federal contractors. Companies are required to report their diversity and demographic data to OFCCP and take an affirmative action for each location.

“Contractors were appointed to run the agency in 2018,” Mr. Lien wrote, “although contractors should establish affirmative action programs to set workforce utilization goals for minorities and women based on availability, Contractors should not engage in discriminatory practices. ”

Camille Olson, an employment attorney with Seaforth Shaw LLP, said it is common for companies to set diversity targets and that they are consistent with OFCP’s affirmative-action obligations for contractors. “Setting goals is encouraged,” she said. “This is something companies have done for years and years.”

Cyrus Mehri, a civil rights advocate for Mehri & Skalt PLLC, said federal contractors need to address any areas of potential discrimination within their ranks. He said, “If these companies take steps to overcome any document shortage, then they are at a sound legal level. ”

A Department of Labor spokesman said the agency “appreciates Microsoft’s assurances on its website that it does not engage in racial preferences or quotas seeking to reach its affirmative action and outreach goals. OFCCP Microsoft to complete its investigation Wants to work with. ”

A Labor Department spokesman did not answer questions about the Wells Fargo letter or how several companies received similar notices.

In September, Microsoft agreed to pay $ 3 million to settle discrimination charges for hiring four facilities. OFCP said the audit found disparities against Asian, black and Hispanic job applicants. In August, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $ 7.8 million to settle OFCCP allegations of clearing discrimination against black job applicants. Neither company admitted wrongdoing in the agreements.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the agreement primarily involved hiring concerns from 2012 to 2014. “The agency recognized that Microsoft had already addressed its concerns and did not require any changes in our hiring practices,” he said.

A spokesman for Wells Fargo said the agreement related to the review of the hiring of data from six to 10 years ago. “There was no conclusion that Wells Fargo hiring managers intentionally discriminated against job candidates,” he said.

Last month, the Trump administration issued an executive order prohibiting companies with federal contracts from participating in training that “is race- or sex-stereotyping or a scapegoat.” OFCP has created a hotline for workers to report their companies for violating the order.

In June, Microsoft also said it would step up efforts to fight racial disparities outside the company, including a $ 50 million investment fund focused on supporting Black-owned small businesses. The company promised to use data and technology to identify racial disparities in the criminal-justice system and improve policing.

“We believe this is a core part of our mission to build our company, our community and our country, where people of diverse views and backgrounds are welcomed and can blossom,” Microsoft posted in its blog post said in.

Wells Fargo has added two senior black leaders to its Steering Committee, requiring a diverse slate of candidates for roles paying more than $ 100,000 and allowing senior managers to meet various hiring and promotion goals Changing its compensation system to make it accountable.

Write Khadija Safdar at [email protected] and Ben Eisen at ben.eisen.wsj.com

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