Microsoft says a drop in its workforce's gender diversity is due to layoffs it made to restructure its phone hardware business this year.
In 2015, women made up 26.8% of Microsoft's total workforce, dropping from 29% in 2014, the company reported Tuesday.
Overall, Microsoft employed 5,701 fewer women this year compared to last, versus 5,316 fewer men, the company said.
Gwen Houston, Microsoft's general manager of diversity and inclusion, said the decrease in female employees resulted the restructuring of their phone business — a business decision that was in the longer-term interest of the company.
"The workforce reductions resulting from the restructure of our phone hardware business ... impacted factory and production facilities outside the U.S. that produce handsets and hardware, and a higher percentage of those jobs were held by women," she said.
The percentage of women in leadership roles was unchanged. And, Microsoft's senior management ranks appear to have become more diverse, with African-Americans making up 2.9% of corporate vice presidents, compared to 1.3% a year ago. In addition, Microsoft's hiring of African-American and Hispanic employees from universities outpaced the graduation rate of students from those groups with Master's degrees.
Overall, Houston said she sees Microsoft's diversity efforts showing signs of improvement, but admitted that the company needs to be more committed to the cause.