James Chadwick
James Chadwick ISV Lead, Microsoft UK
Nov 26,2020

Help drive an inclusive and diverse tech sector with the Partner Pledge

These last few months have changed the way we do business and connect. We’ve increasingly used technology to enable us to work in more agile ways during lockdown, and we’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in just a few months.

As we return to a new normal, this technology will play a critical role in driving economic recovery and growth. Microsoft’s been part of the UK for almost 40 years, we’ve seen the impact that powerful transformative technologies such as AI, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and Mixed Reality has had on our partners, shared customers, and society as a whole.

That’s why we believe it’s our collective responsibility to ensure this economic recovery and growth is inclusive. This means giving everyone the right skills and opportunity to make the most of what’s ahead. However, we’re currently facing a skills gap that is widening even further.

Not only does this skills gap impact individual prospects, it has a systemic effect on the abilities of organisations, industries, and communities to leverage the potential of digital transformation. That’s why Microsoft recently launched one of the most comprehensive skilling initiatives in its history. We aim to bring more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year.

As a Partner, you likely not only share our technology vision and commitment to customers, but also the belief in the role technology can play in addressing broader societal challenges. These shared values and priorities are integral to how we work and achieve success together. Our Partner community represents 25,000 businesses, and collectively we employee hundreds of thousands of people across the UK. When we work together, we can achieve amazing things.

Because our impact is so huge, we’re asking more of you to embrace the Partner Pledge and join us driving positive change across the UK and ensure technology is a force for good in society. It focuses on these critical goals, with five pillars:

Digital skills

Every job is being changed by technology so it’s important to develop a digital skillset – whether it’s basic digital literacy to cloud skills, or even understanding how to maximise the AI opportunity. Now, more than ever it is important to help the UK prepare for the challenges of the future.

Through the Partner Pledge, we aim to raise awareness of digital skills initiatives and take advantage of all opportunities to provide staff and partners with new skills, while promoting the same initiatives to customers.

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Together in the last 10 years, we’ve created over 20,000 tech apprenticeships in the UK. Apprenticeships are an important part of addressing the skills gap. Not only do they prevent the economic crises damaging the prospects of young people, but it helps them gain the right qualifications for the right jobs. They earn the skills that prepares them for the future – all while filling much-needed roles in businesses.

Our pledge asks members to:

  • Review the minimum requirements in selection criteria for early-in-career roles.
  • Commit to at least one apprenticeship through Microsoft’s Apprenticeship Learning Partners.
  • Seek opportunities to inform young people about digital careers.

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Diversity and inclusion

It’s important that our industry reflects and supports society. With the Tech Talent Charter, we’re working to improve the diversity of the UK technology workforce. At Microsoft, we’re making progress on our journey with gender diverse hiring and promotions, with 36 percent of roles now held by women.

Inclusivity also means building and deploying accessible solutions that empower everyone. We’ve updated the Partner Pledge to reflect more specific plans to improve inclusion.  They will focus on adopting inclusive recruitment and promotion processes and practices. We will also address racial inequality by striving for strong representation across all levels – from individual contributors to senior management.

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Responsible and ethical AI

It’s important that AI is developed in a responsible and ethical way that puts people first. To do this, we are embracing diverse perspectives, continuous learning, and agile responsiveness as technology develops.

Part of the pledge is to ensure AI is developed and deployed with the accountability of the people who create it. To facilitate this, we offer Partners our AI design principles that require it to be fair, accountable, explainable, and ethical.

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Back in January, Microsoft made a commitment to be carbon negative by 2030, as well as removing all the carbon we’ve emitted since 1975. To fuel the development of new carbon capture and technologies, we’ve committed to a US $10 billion climate innovation fund.

We added this commitment to the Partner Pledge because we believe in the power of technology to help safeguard our planet, and we’re supporting our partners and customers reduce their carbon footprint through the use of technology.

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Help the UK thrive

These priorities aren’t just the right thing to do – they make strong business sense. When you sign the pledge, not only do you state you share this vision, but you gain access to a community of other partners who share the same values. Your logo goes on our website so your customers can see your passion for preparing not just you, but the community for the future.

We invite you to sign the Partner Pledge and work with us to help empower the UK to be an inclusive economy. To confirm your pledge please download the document and, once signed, please email us a copy. The UK Marketing Concierge will then be in touch to confirm next steps.

Thank you to the UK partners that have signed the pledge so far.