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Microsoft India: Lesson for Startups about Diversity and Inclusion at Work

Anonymous User 1612 02-Jun-2017

Microsoft India: Lesson for Startups about Diversity and Inclusion at Work

For most startups in India, the backseat has taken by the need for adopting an effective HR strategy to attract and retain talented employees in the run to grab eyeballs of both investors and target consumers. After the starting energetic rush is over, only a few employees who are founding members tend to stick on.

Employees working at startups, to sustain work pleasure, are jumping from one “big revolutionary dream” workplace to another within a short time period. A very little is done to recruit, retain, and nurture diverse talent – women, differently-abled people and people from different age groups, that what can be revealed out just with a casual talk with the employees working at a startup.

Microsoft India HR Director Ira Gupta in an exclusive interaction with Debashish Sarkar of talks about the importance of creating a diverse and inclusive environment to attract and retain talented employees. In India, Microsoft started operating in 1990. The software giant has its presence in the country, across 10 cities and has over 7,000 of workforce associated with it.

Here are some excerpts:

Q: How much is “diversity and inclusion” essential at workplace for Microsoft India?

The diversity of our employees is a matter of pride for us. We believe that each person is different i.e. unique in its category. It may be experience, age, capabilities, thinking, demographic, etc. We focus to bring all of the creativity that comes from this diversity to the workplace.

Creating an inclusive environment helps attract and retain talented employees as well as support their professional and personal advancement, which results in more innovative products and solutions for our customers.

Q: How is Microsoft acting to promote “diversity and inclusion” at its offices across India?

Microsoft’s culture is transforming to be one that is founded in a growth mindset across three areas - customer-obsession, diversity and inclusiveness. It never has been a greater priority for us, to be balanced and inclusive workforce.

We actively implement practices and programs to ensure people from diverse backgrounds, genders and abilities are successful. Numerous of programs and initiatives have started focused at recruiting, retaining, and nurturing diverse talent – differently-abled people, women, and people from all generations.

Q: Microsoft India recently hosted its signature annual diversity and inclusion conference called Confluence. Kindly explain about it.

It focuses on expanding inclusive practices, exploring opportunities and understanding challenges faced by different employee groups and to building a work culture that helps overcome biases. Confluence started as a conference for women employees ten years ago. The key focus are on three pillars of diversity – gender, generational and abilities.

Q: Throw some light on the happenings at the Confluence conference?

Confluence is a day-long conference. This year, the event was a conclusion of Confluence Week which started on April 17 and more than 1000 employees participated in it across all Microsoft offices in India. Some of the sessions at Confluence 2017 were:

Generational diversity track:

·     Listen Deeply Workshop: Through an interesting ‘reconstruct-the-story’ format, explore the role of listening deeply, empathy, verbal and non-verbal language in effectively collaborating with colleagues from different generations.

·    Multigenerational Lab: Understand and bust stereotypes and myths associated with different generations through an interactive and fun learning session. It aims to help better manage self and interacting with others in a generationally diverse team.

Abilities track

·   Disable the biases: A simulation-based workshop helps participants to experience the world of those with physical and cognitive impairments, and understand what constitutes an inclusive work environment. Designed and facilitated by experts from the ACE social foundation, this session deals with the misconceptions around hiring and working with people with disability.

Gender diversity track:

·    Gender intelligence program: This interactive session brings alive workplace issues faced due to gender differences. Step outside your comfort zones and prepare yourself to handle gender bias issues better in your careers. Especially relevant to executives and managers, but open to everyone. This program is designed on the H3 model - head, heart and hand – and focuses on an individual’s role in creating a gender-balanced ecosystem. 

Q: To encourage gender diversity in the field of engineering, Microsoft has another platform called Codess. Kindly share more information related to it?

Codess is a female developer who can create magic with code and serves as a platform for women coders to share personal and professional experiences as well as network and learn from each other. It was introduced in India in 2016.

This year, Codess served as a platform for women coders bringing together 2000 women participants from 41 colleges. The program culminated after a week-long series of competitions on March 8 on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Also Read: Microsoft PowerPoint Gets Real-Time Speech-to-Text Translation

Updated 20-Mar-2018
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