“Empowerment is at the core of the tech industry,” writes Michelle Simmons, Microsoft Asia-Pacific’s General Manager of Southeast Asia New Markets. “When we talk about empowering people, we simply mean that with the right tools, anyone can become anything. Empowerment, therefore, is key to building a diverse and inclusive workforce.” Here are her suggestions for driving diversity and inclusion.
· A more inclusive culture
It is important to have an inclusive workforce, however, unconscious bias can work against this in unintentional ways. For the past several years, Microsoft has set goals to increase diversity and inclusion across the company. Microsoft has learned that building an inclusive organisation is about the attitude and behaviour of a company’s leaders. “It takes strong leadership and unwavering accountability, starting at the very top of the company.”
· Empowering people
Microsoft has led the formation of a range of employee resource groups that represent many different segments of society, and serve as outreach mechanisms between diverse communities and Microsoft as a whole.
· Pipelines of diverse talent
Tech companies are often criticized for their slow process in employing underrepresented groups. The reasons range from traditional mindsets to the lack of females in the STEM pipeline. Microsoft hopes to collaborate with other technology companies and non-profits to broaden the pipeline of diverse talent flowing into the industry.
· Delight your customers
Microsoft believes customers are aware of the needs of the people with disabilities, and make purchasing decisions based on how companies treat them. The Microsoft annual Ability Summit brings engineers, designers and other tech professionals together with people with disabilities, who represent 15 percent of the world population. The summits are helping create the next wave of accessible products and services that will help them achieve more.
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