Microsoft Layoffs Have Hit Women Particularly Hard

Female Workers at Microsoft

Women working at Microsoft have been hit particularly hard by the company’s recent round of layoffs.

The company’s newest diversity report, issued on Monday, shows that women now make up 26.8% of the Microsoft workforce — down from 29% a year earlier.

The company says the sudden change in male-to-female ratio was likely due “to the restructuring of our phone hardware business.” That means the company’s $7.5 billion write-down of its Nokia acquisition led to jobs cuts where a higher percentage of the workers were women.

“The workforce reductions resulting from the restructure of our phone hardware business…impacted factory and production facilities outside the U.S. that produce handsets and hardware,” Gwen Houston, Microsoft Global Diversity and Inclusion general manager, wrote in a blog post. “This was the main cause of the decline in female representation at Microsoft.”

Microsoft announced in July that it was laying off 7,800 people as the result of Nokia’s failure to gain market share. The layoffs followed 18,000 job cuts in 2014.

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“Even with this explanation, I want to emphasize that we are not satisfied with where we are today regarding the percentage of women in our workforce,” Houston added. “Our senior leaders continue to be deeply committed to doing everything possible to improve these numbers.”

Microsoft has said it plans to do a better job recruiting, training, and promoting women.

“Worldwide, 30.6% of all university hires coming into Microsoft are women, up from 27.7%,” said Houston. “This is encouraging as we think about our future.”

“We are focused on all stages of the pipeline,” she said. “We’re starting to see results — definitely not as quickly as we would like, but we’re starting to move in the right direction.”

Microsoft is in desperate need of a win among female workers after CEO Satya Nadella in 2014 suggested that women who don’t ask for raises will receive “good karma.” He has since apologized for that comment.