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Business Leaders on the Front Lines of Confronting Injustice & Racism

Main Stage



  • Brad Smith opened the conversation by reminding the audience that racial injustice is not a new phenomenon; indeed, he notes, we are in the fifth century of racism in America. Smith recalled the groundbreaking battles for racial equity that took place in the 1960s, as well as the birth and growth of the Black Lives Matter movement within the past few years. 
  • While the struggle against racism proves anything but new, the year 2020 does mark a major turning point. This year, the movement is receiving a renewed sense of urgency brought about by young people who are emphatically voicing the need for sweeping change. Conversations about how the business community in particular can advance racial justice have proliferated in an unprecedented way.
  • Microsoft is working to improve equity and inclusion across its entire supply chain. Smith argued that a company’s diversity & inclusion practices should account for its vendors and suppliers. He revealed that Microsoft was the first company to create a law firm diversity program, wherein the company pays an additional 2% bonus each year to law firms that meet or surpass specific diversity goals.

“We should recognize that the technology of our time—the cameras we all carry around, our smartphones—are making it far more difficult for [racist] attacks to take place with impunity,” Brad Smith

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Microsoft has committed to doubling representation for Black employees among the company’s managerial and leadership ranks within the next five years. 
  • To further advance diverse representation, the technology giant is investing $150 million in stronger recruiting, development, and retention programs. 
  • Microsoft is committing more than $500 million in additional procurement from U.S.-based minority-owned firms. 
  • The company will require its top 100 suppliers to report on diverse representation. 
  • Microsoft is committing an additional $50 million toward expanding an existing initiative focused around justice reform.


Session Speakers