Microsoft Ignite London 2019 | Company Culture and Diversity in Tech

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Last week some of the team spent 2 days at the Microsoft Ignite Tour in London at the ExCel.

Workshops/sessions ranged from the setup of 365 applications and building scripts to standardise processes all the way through to how to optimise your use of Microsoft apps and how they can all link together to save time for users.

Whilst both days were full of tech talks, Wednesday also included a full day of sessions running on Company culture, Diversity in Tech and what advancements in Microsoft technology have been made directly from their work with accessibility and inclusion. Candy, our Training Manager attended these sessions to gain insight into how a large company like Microsoft handle their employee engagement and minority groups.

Microsoft’s mission

As some of you will know when Satya Nadella took over from Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO in 2014 he started a drive to refresh Microsoft’s company culture. Since then they’ve become leaders in the tech industry for their forward-thinking approach to diversity and dedication to making all of their products fully inclusive to those with disabilities. This is now at the heart of almost everything they do with each employee having the core value of diversity and inclusion as part of their own individual development plans.

How are they Achieving this?

The simple answer is “From the top down”. They have the backing of every senior manager and Satya himself to ensure that they are always working in a considerate and inclusive manner. They have made a conscious decision to make a growth mindset a priority and this could be seen throughout all of the sessions at Ignite, whether it was technical or HR based.

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Women in Tech

Microsoft does a lot of work with charities and other organisations that work with schools and colleges to gain interest from girls and students in IT and STEM fields, but they are also doing a lot internally that we can learn from. 

Changing the Mindset

Microsoft has focused on changing the mindset of their new and existing employees so that every employee can feel comfortable being themselves at work. This has been dubbed “Come as you are, do what you love” and has become a core value for all of their management teams.

Tech advancements 

Many technological advancements have come out of Microsoft’s work with minority groups. Some of them through technical projects which Microsoft employees have worked on, but others are found from the Hack events which they run each year.

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What can we learn?

Most of what Microsoft is working on, isn’t feasible for a company of our size. So, how can we learn from them without being able to incorporate all of the different elements? Here are a few ideas which we are working on:

Making diversity and inclusion a priority
This could mean including our core values into our personal development plans to ensure that we are all pulling in the same direction.

Community involvement
Attending local school and college careers fairs to encourage students to discover what it is like to work within IT; and what careers are available to them within the tech industry.

Employee Resource Groups (ERG)
Creating an open culture of communication or having direct channels which people can go down with problems is something which we will be working on in the future.

Training
Training isn’t just learning how our applications work, so we are starting to put an importance on to what “soft skills” we can incorporate into training to help our day to day activities.