Trump’s Department of Labor targets Microsoft for pledge to hire more black managers

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A Microsoft store on August 3, 2020 in New York City.

A Microsoft store on August 3, 2020 in New York City.
Photo: Cindy Ord (Getty Images)

Trump’s Department of Labor has launched an investigation into whether Microsoft violated federal law by promising to hire more black and African American managers and leaders, ABC News reported Wednesday.

Microsoft faced critic for years about a lack of diversity everywhere from its base to executive suites, as well as the tales of a racialement hostile working environment. Corporate Vice President and General Counsel Dev Stahlkopf written in a blog post that the DOL survey, led by its Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), “focused on whether Microsoft’s commitment to double the number of people managers, individual contributors and senior Black and African American leaders in our US workforce by 2025 could constitute unlawful discrimination based on race, which would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The DOL told Stahlkopf in a letter that the pledge “seems to imply that action for employment can be taken on the basis of race.”

Stahlkopf added in his statement that Microsoft’s pledge to double the number of senior black and African American employees is “categorically” not a violation of labor law and the company has “every confidence that the initiative to Microsoft’s diversity policy is fully compliant with all US labor laws. ”

News of DOL investigation follows racist batshit executive order of the Trump administration on September 22 which threatened federal agencies and contractors with losing funding and terminating contracts if they did not act immediately to end diversity training programs that he said are part of a “malignant ideology”. The terms are both broad and subjective, prohibiting training that promotes the idea that the United States is “fundamentally racist or sexist” or that any individual, on the basis of their gender or race, is “inherently racist. , sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. “

The order itself follows a September 4 White House memo suggesting that agencies look in their training programs for endorsements of “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “intersectionality,” “Systemic racism”, “positionality”, “racial humility” and “unconscious prejudice”. Washington Post reported. This wording could easily be interpreted as referring to programs like Unconscious Bias training, which aims to make workers aware of any potential biases they may harbor to avoid acting on them in the workplace.

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The DOL investigation focuses on alleged Title VII violations, not the Executive Order, but it’s part of a consistent push to roll back anti-racist policies in American workplaces by executive decision. Bloomberg reported that on September 28, OFCCP announced that it had created hotlines to report “offensive and anti-American stereotypes and scapegoats of race and gender” under the order.

The memo and order created confusion across government, the Post said, despite efforts by federal officials to translate something that is widely believed to have been inspired by the Fox News segments into cohesive policy. .

For example, Parks Service employees told The Post that racial sensitivity classes, training on how to ensure equal access to blind and deaf visitors, tribal counseling and disrupting “behaviors”. inappropriate and offensive ”at work were still prohibited as of September 30. number of colleges have stopped diversity programs.

Microsoft said it will focus on hiring more blacks and African Americans into senior positions after its dismal Diversity report 2019 has shown that only 4.5% of its workforce is black, as are less than 3% of its leadership positions, according to the le journal Wall Street. Former head of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, Samuel Bagenstos, told Bloomberg that the DOL’s intervention “appears to be a perversion of everything this agency is supposed to be” and that the commitment Microsoft’s “is the sort of thing that in previous administrations the Department of Labor had told federal contractors they should do.

“We are clear that we are prohibited by law from discriminating on the basis of race,” Stahlkopf wrote in the blog post. “We also have affirmative obligations as a company in service to the federal government to continue to increase the diversity of our workforce, and we take these obligations very seriously. We have decades of experience and know very well how to appropriately create opportunities for people without depriving others of opportunities. “

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