Rachel Bondi
Rachel Bondi Chief Partner Officer, Partner Solutions Group, Microsoft Australia
Dec 21,2020

Champions of Change – 2020 year in review, 2021 year to come!

Champions of change

As we approach the end of what has been a momentous year for all of us, I’m reflecting on the stand out successes that have still been possible.

For me, the creation of the Champions of Change Microsoft Partner Group earlier this year, and the commitment that this group has demonstrated in working toward gender equality and workplace inclusivity has been a real beacon of light in 2020.

The Champions of Change Impact report for 2020 has just been released, and it reveals the progress that has been made on this issue and importantly also stresses how we now have the opportunity to embed gender equality at the very heart of our COVID-19 recovery strategies. A good part of that is thanks to the flexible and inclusive workplaces that have emerged across multiple sectors as organisations embraced digital technologies in order to keep operating but also to keep their staff safe when social distancing was critical.

Before the pandemic 88 per cent of Champions of Change members said they offered mainstream flexible work – that’s now risen to 95 per cent.

Microsoft technologies and Microsoft partners have been fundamental in helping many organisations right across Australia create those new flexible and inclusive workplaces that I believe can now help catapult us forward in terms of gender equality and greater diversity.

The partners that joined us seven months ago when we first formed the Champions of Change Microsoft Partners Group are real pioneers in terms of their commitment to this critically important issue – and the group is still the only one that is drawn entirely from a partner ecosystem. It’s something to be proud of – and a reminder of the vision and impact that the Microsoft partner ecosystem brings to bear.

Pioneer partners

Eleven of our largest partners, which between them employ more than 10,000 people, have joined the Group and their CEOs or MDs have each made personal commitments to support this vital initiative.

My sincere thanks to Data#3, Datacom, Dicker Data, Empired, Ingram, Insight, Interactive, Modis, Rackspace, Synnex and Thomas Duryea Logicalis for their inspiring leadership on this issue.

They join captains of industry from Australia and around the world, who are also committed to this growing movement and over the last seven months, each has made important steps forward, with more to come.

As a group we have been engaged in listen and learn forums which made clear the challenge that we need to address.

Women Rising

That challenge extends right across our sector which is why we also wanted to ensure that the broader partner community has the opportunity to support women at work. We are proud to be working with the Women Rising online program which is now available to partners and Microsoft employees.

Designed to help women achieve their leadership and career goals it offers online modules, coaching and video masterclasses and will run from February to July next year. You can register for this before 18 December.

We’ve had great interest already; “SoftwareONE is delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this fantastic Women Rising program, which we have open up to all the women on our ANZ team. The response has been amazing and we’re proud that we have 20 people signed up to for the 2021 Women Rising contingent. I would like to thank both Microsoft and the Women Rising team for promoting and running this program.” Stuart Hogben, Managing Director, SoftwareONE, Australia and New Zealand.

Our participation in the Women Rising program aligns with the work we are undertaking with the first 11 partners to join the Champions of Change Microsoft Partners Group. We have established a group workplan that will see us focus in a couple of key areas: building a stronger talent pipeline of women and diverse talent; using the pandemic learnings to embed flexible work practices and encourage more inclusiveness; and, using technology to develop metrics to support leaders as they strive for gender equality.

All organisations either have or are implementing an inclusion and diversity strategy, and most of the Group is looking at how to partner with schools, universities and colleges to encourage more women and girls to take up STEM careers.

Focus for 2021

One of the focus areas for 2021 will be how we can address everyday sexism and sexual harassment and ensure our people feel empowered to take bystander action to make all workplaces respectful, inclusive and safe.

Members are also assessing their organisation’s approach to domestic and family violence, parental and carers’ leave and more inclusive flexible work while also reviewing their internal policies and processes, and external communications and engagement.

What we are striving for is:

·      Gender balance on leadership, recruitment, graduates and promotions;

·      Pay equity between men and women;

·      Flexible and inclusive employment experience; and,

·      Leadership, advocacy and impact on gender equality issues.

I am privileged to serve as convenor of this group alongside Elizabeth Broderick, who founded the Champions of Change Coalition a decade ago. I am proud to work alongside this pioneer group of Microsoft partners – and I would like also to invite other partners to join us and work toward a more equal and inclusive world – I believe, a better world.