Microsoft said in an SEC filing this week that it will actively consider women and minority candidates to succeed CEO Satya Nadella, making it among the most explicit statements from a major tech company about CEO diversity to date.
In its annual proxy statement, which was first spotted by CNBC, Microsoft said its board of directors “is committed to actively seeking highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool of potential CEO candidates.”
The statement does not indicate that Nadella is on his way out imminently—companies typically include statements in annual regulatory filings about CEO succession, but rarely do they include promises about diversity.
In the wake of the George Floyd protests over the summer, Microsoft pledged to double the number of Black managers and senior leaders in the U.S. by 2025—though that effort is under scrutiny from the Justice Department.
According to its 2019 diversity report, women constitute 29.2% of Microsoft’s workforce, Black employees 4.4%, Latinx 6.2% and Asian 33.3%.
Critics have for years assailed the lack of diversity in corporate America. There are 32 women leading S&P 500 companies and only 11% of S&P 500 CEOs are ethnic minorities, according to the Wall Street Journal. Advocates point to a multitude of reasons why, including a failure to train and keep minority talent for executive roles and a tendency to put women and underrepresented groups in charge of marketing or human resources, which don’t typically serve as springboards to CEO positions.
-By Rachel Sandler, Forbes Staff