Re: Not very encouraging
"Speaking as someone who is pale, male and by all accounts quite a reasonable programmer I can't help asking myself why there should be artificial barriers placed in front of me in the workplace."
Because you're missing the point, you are - as is common - making it strictly about yourself.
The point is that everyone else has had barriers, either structurally acknowledged or group impressed, upon them. Women and minorities, for example, have a long-held stereotype that they are 'less suited' to technology roles, and therefore are rated lower in the placement ratings just because they are them. Even Microsoft itself acknowledges this, with the quoted comment of "there is still much work to be done with specific communities".
But you have taken the common position: any work to re-equalize the playing field, any effort done to repair a broken system that seems (true or false, systemically or via an individual's unique actions) to discount the importance of another individual due strictly to their physical attributes...is a 'barrier' placed on you.
And this, amongst other things, is why these systems remain broken.
You sound like a very reasonable fellow. But, fundamentally, you are continuing to look at this as a power struggle: any positives that they might receive, any reparations that they might attain, is a negative on my spreadsheet on the balance of life.
You are not getting "barriers placed in front of [you]" when another person who isn't you - isn't "pale and male" - gets equal considerations and compensations in the same work conditions that you both will share. I'm sorry, but it isn't, and you need to realize that in order to see the truth of what these people fight for.