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Microsoft and Wells Fargo committed to diversity — the feds say not so fast

By Khristopher J. Brooks | 9 October 2020

CBS NEWS — When Microsoft and Wells Fargo recently pledged to hire more Black executives for senior management positions as part of a broader push to add diversity, the U.S. Department of Labor had a message for both of their CEOs: The companies’ actions could be discriminatory.

In September 29 letters sent to lawyers for the technology and banking giants, the agency indicated that statements made by Microsoft chief Satya Nadella and Wells Fargo head Charles Scharf committing to significantly boosting the number of Black managers and employees could violate federal affirmative action laws.

Scharf said in June that the company expects to be “doubling Black leadership” over the next five years and that top managers will be evaluated based in part on making progress toward that goal.

The executive’s statements “appear to imply that employment action is being taken based on race,” Craig Leen, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, said in its letter to Wells Fargo. But government contractors are forbidden from discriminating on the basis of race or color in order to give a particular group additional opportunities, he noted, adding that “quotas are expressly forbidden.” […]

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