Microsoft expands program for women returning to work

Microsoft software for enterpriseMicrosoft is expanding a program designed to increase its hiring of women seeking to re-join the software company, following a rash of complaints about sexual harassment and gender discrimination, Reuters reported.

Women make up 26 percent of Microsoft’s employees, and 19 percent of its leadership, according to the company’s September 2017 diversity figures.

“Not only do we want to empower women’s come back but also tap into non-traditional talent pools,” said Microsoft Human Resources Manager Belen Welch in a May 31 LinkedIn post promoting the program.

The program is part of Microsoft’s LEAP diversity initiative, aimed at hiring women and minorities from unconventional backgrounds, such as self-taught coders and graduates of so-called coding boot camps. The camps typically consist of about 40 candidates who sign six- to eight-month contracts with the likelihood of full-time offers upon completion.

Microsoft received 238 internal complaints of gender discrimination or sexual harassment from 2010 to 2016. It was sued in a Seattle federal court in 2015 for systematically denying pay raises or promotions to women. The company has denied these claims.

Microsoft said in March it had dealt with 83 complaints of harassment and 84 complaints of gender discrimination in 2017. The complaints resulted in about 20 employees being fired.