3 Ambitious interns, 1 goal……to tackle unconscious bias and think critically about inclusion in the modern workplace. A Solutions Specialist intern, you can read Natasha’s story from the Netherlands below.
“Diversity & Inclusion at Microsoft is not a project, it’s a movement! ”
Diversity and inclusion are values critical to business success and future innovation. But diversity and inclusion require more than hiring a diverse workforce. It is a progress. At Microsoft, Diversity & Inclusion is a core value that all three of us could identify with.
Our perception of Diversity & Inclusion
Growing up in a traditional environment in the southern part of the Netherlands, Vera realized that gender stereotypes are still prevalent in the Dutch society. At Microsoft Netherlands, she wants to help drive successful female leadership as part of the Diversity & Inclusion movement.
Having seen many man-made boundaries Rayan thrives to be limitless by going back to basic. As a part of the National Empowerment plan team in the Netherlands, Rayan felt that Diversity & Inclusion is always going to be an important part of our business. Whether this is being digitally inclusive or diverse. Natasha grew up in Germany with a half-Nepalese background and immediately felt warmly welcomed in the Dutch One Commercial Partner Build-With Team, she supports the Diversity & Inclusion Movement to encourage more internationals to join Microsoft Netherlands.
How we got started
In December, we kick-started our first Diversity & Inclusion speed dating session at Microsoft Netherlands to fuel our commitment to the progress. The initiative was a collaboration of three ambitious interns, looking for a way to reflect on a topic that matters to all of us, in a setting that allows for diverse and honest conversations between full-time employees and interns.
On the day itself, we had more full-time employees than interns present at the event, even three members from our Senior Leadership Team joined us. As an additional highlight, Jason Graefe and Colette Stallbaumer supported our initiative via e-mail. What a fantastic statement in terms of motivation and commitment from our management!
The sessions were formatted in 7-minute ‘speed-dates’ to create a comfortable atmosphere for open conversations. We defined diversity within Microsoft as a mixed workforce, not only based on nationality or gender, but also when it comes to the background, characteristics, capabilities, beliefs and perspectives of everyone. Inclusion at Microsoft for instance, means to empower employees to feel comfortable while sharing their own ideas with their teams, the company is respecting each employee in her diversity and uniqueness.
Reflections over reflections
To support such inclusive behavior in a team, it is crucial to understand relevant factors such as our own conscious and unconscious biases. Hence, our ‘speed-dates’ were directed towards reflecting on our own unconscious biases and what we can do to be aware and counteract them.
“As One Microsoft, we want to maximize the contribution of every individual as it allows us to infuse diverse thought as a natural part of the way we innovate.”
Every 7 minutes, seats had to be switched and new conversations with different questions took place. Afterwards, we came together to reflect on the event and ask the participants what they have taken away from joining the session. Turns out there was one phrase that appeared in almost every reflection: Open Conversations.
With this positive feedback in mind, we will continue to make a concerted effort to tackle our own unconscious biases. Only then can we leverage and nurture diversity and inclusion so that it can thrive.
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