Posted on November 16, 2023

Microsoft Instructed All Workers to Set Diversity Goals in Performance Reviews

Ruth Umoh, Fortune, November 8, 2023

“Change starts at the top.” It’s a recurring catchphrase I hear from chief diversity officers when touting their CEOs’ commitment to DEI and the importance of top-down tone setting.


Middle managers are arguably the most crucial determinant of the reach and efficacy of DEI efforts. They’re at the fulcrum of talent management, shape the daily experiences of employees, and make hiring, firing, and promotion decisions. When properly engaged, they can serve as strong champions for DEI and transform intention into action and measurable change. Conversely, when managers don’t buy into DEI, they can be a forceful hindrance to the implementation of DEI programs. {snip}

To make diversity sustainable and widespread, it can’t exist solely within the DEI function, Microsoft’s chief diversity officer, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, tells me. All employees must pick up the mantle and champion diversity.

About five years ago, the company decided to take a more structural approach to hold employees accountable to companywide DEI goals: All employees must set a diversity-related development goal in annual performance reviews.

Referred to internally as a DEI Core Priority, it’s a set of actions based on personal reflections that are meant to align with and promote the company’s DEI priorities for that year. They range from participating in learning opportunities, nurturing allyship behavior, facilitating critical conversations, or leveraging feedback to understand and improve.


Since implementing the DEI Core Priority, Microsoft has seen a 270% increase in employees taking optional diversity and inclusion learnings, independent of required learnings, says McIntyre.