Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addresses the protests across the US in an employee town hall: 'My ask to each of you is to come together'

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.Sean Gallup/Getty Images
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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella asked employees to have empathy for one another and advocate for diverse voices as people in cities across the US began to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

"This is not something that you can just leave behind when you log into work," Nadella said on Thursday, May 28 during an employee town hall, as shared on LinkedIn the following day.

"My feeling is that we can start by checking in with each other, ask all colleagues how they're doing and what they need, have empathy for what others are feeling."Advertisement

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

Nadella called on employees to embrace its "model, coach, care" management framework, used by managers to model Microsoft culture, coach team members to reach objectives, and show they care about employees. "We can model that behavior we need to see, coach others on how they can be better allies, and care for each other in times of crisis," Nadella said.

But, Nadella said, empathy is not enough, and it's incumbent Microsoft to use its position and resources to drive systemic change. He called out Microsoft's work on an initiative it launched in 2019 to drive reforms in policing.
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Some of Microsoft's work with law enforcement agencies has come under fire, including in March when immigrant rights groups and some Microsoft workers asked tech companies to stop sharing their technologies with Immigration and Customs Enforcement as the agency conducted raids during the coronavirus crisis.

Nadella in his address to employees seemed to commit to Microsoft's goal of diversifying its workforce. "We need to recognize that we are better, smarter and stronger when we consider the voices, the actions of all communities," Nadella said. "And you have my assurance that Microsoft will continue to advocate to have all those voices heard and respected."Advertisement

Like most big tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Apple, Microsoft has had only mixed success in making its employee ranks reflect the diversity of people in society and among its customers. Microsoft's global workforce as of late last year was nearly three-quarters male, and more than half of its employees were white.

Microsoft in November released the company's first official "Diversity and Inclusion" report, revealing progress in hiring more people of color and women of all backgrounds, including in high-paying executive, director, managerial, and technical roles. The report also highlighted achievements in pay equity between employees in equivalent roles.

Experts at the time said technology companies need to pay attention not only to who they hire, but how long those people stick around, how they are treated, and whether they receive promotions. And, they said, companies won't achieve pay equity until people of color and women of all backgrounds hold as many high-paying roles as white men.Advertisement

Nadella called upon Microsoft's employees to take care of one another.

"My ask to each of you is to come together," Nadella said. "Ask a colleague how they are doing today. Give each other grace as they're navigating unseen circumstances."

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