Orla McGrath GPS UK Lead
Jun 09,2021

Maximise your potential and help your customers transform

Diversity and inclusion is not just about representation. It’s about leveraging the power of the diversity among us to create better solutions that help people achieve more. Diversity and inclusion helps us be more productive, drive more innovation, and ultimately, be more profitable. You can create strong strategies and bring on people with diverse backgrounds, but this won’t matter if they don’t feel valued for what they bring or aren’t respected for who they are. Those with enriching perspectives won’t engage or stay. Therefore, without inclusion, the power of diversity remains untapped.

Effective systemic change calls on employees at every level to consciously create inclusive experiences and environments for each other. At Microsoft, we consider allyship a key behaviour to advancing conversations that lead to change. That’s why we have made allyship core to our diversity and inclusion efforts and a major investment for us as an organisation. We want to ensure our partners have the best opportunity to succeed in the new world of work. Diversity and inclusion will help drive that opportunity. This is why we’ve made it a key pillar in our partner pledge.

Build allyship into your diversity and inclusion strategy

At Microsoft, we use allyship as a model and tool for self-reflection. It helps us better understand our own emotional reactions andencourages us to establish systems to hold ourselves accountable as we strive to be the most effective, consistent and sustainable allies we can be.

When we talk about allyship we focus on learning and not shaming. We recognise that everyone can fall prey to demonstrating non-inclusive behaviour, even unconsciously. By talking about it in this way, it shifts the allyship conversation from ‘Us vs. Them’ to one of an opportunity to show up as an ally for someone else. This takes us from individual allyship to one that leads to systemic changes in the workplace and the industry.

Build diversity and inclusion into your solutions

We must always be mindful of everyone and constantly ask ourselves who is excluded from what we create. That way, we ensure we design, build and sell solutions and services that are truly for everyone. We leverage the power of difference by engaging each other’s strengths, experiences and various perspectives to achieve our common objective. As a result, our ideas are better, our products are better and our customers are better served.

We’ve created an inclusive design methodology and are happy to share this with our partners. This methodology is built on three principles that guide our inclusive design practice:

  1. We recognise that exclusion is designed. When we’re designing for ourselves, we exclude people with different abilities, preferences and ways of learning. Designing for inclusivity not only opens up our products and services to more people, it also reflects how people really are.
  2. We learn from diversity by building empathy for our customers. This is the core of what we do and the most impactful part of our work that sticks with people. Inclusive design puts people in the centre from the very start of the process, and those fresh, diverse perspectives are the key to true insight.
  3. We solve for one and extend to many. Everyone has abilities, and limits to those abilities. Designing for people with permanent disabilities results in designs that benefit people universally.

These three principles help us derive inspiration from human adaptability, fuel creativity, and results in better products for everyone.

Our partners showcasing diversity and inclusion

We’re so excited and proud that Microsoft partners are at the forefront of helping customers with their own diversity and inclusion strategies. We are working with some great partners like:

Delsion

As a people and development consultancy, Delsion promotes cultural and behavioural change.  This work embeds diversity and inclusion throughout the organisations  they engage with. By creating a sense of belonging and treating people as individuals, Delsion establishes a foundation of diversity and inclusion. From effective strategy setting, defining inclusive practices through to designing and delivering its leading-edge development solutions, Delsion provides true end-to-end support with proven outcomes. It is Delsion’s goal to make diversity and inclusion a seamlessly integrated central part of all organisational activities.

MeVitae

MeVitae believes in fairness. A world where everyone is given an opportunity to thrive; a position where they feel challenged and valued, where businesses can hire the right people the first-time round. The team help organisations hire smarter, faster and fairer by mitigating unconscious and algorithmic bias. Their tools de-bias the recruitment processes with 95 percent accuracy and increases diversity and inclusion by 30 percent.

Akari

Being inclusive isn’t just about adapting physical spaces; technology literacy is just as vital for social inclusion. ADI (Akari Diversity and Inclusion) is a free app which lives in Microsoft Teams, levelling the playing field for everyone. ADI surfaces information on accessibility features such Immersive Reader, live captions, and translation within Microsoft Teams, Windows 10 or Office 365. It can be used to support change management programmes and supplement training by pointing to bite-size videos, providing conversational how-to answers, and signposting to external subject matter experts on inclusion, diversity, wellbeing and accessibility.

Drive diversity and inclusion

For organisations to be successful, diversity and inclusion is increasingly becoming a key component. At Include 2021, we gathered some of the top experts in diversity and inclusion. Watch on-demand to learn about how we can drive systemic and individual change. We also have a #BuildFor2030 campaign that aims to help partners who are making a difference by amplifying their solutions. You can nominate your own solution, or view solutions that can help your diversity and inclusion priorities.

It’s also important that we recognise and amplify our shared values and priorities. Our partner community represents thousands of businesses in the UK. Collectively, we can make a huge difference to address the broader societal challenges. To recognise this, we have a Partner Pledge that helps us achieve more, together. Please visit Partner Pledge for more detail and to sign up.

About the author:

As the new  Commercial Partner Lead in the UK, Orla believes passionately in making organisations more diverse and inclusive. Having previously led the D&I initiative for Accenture in Europe, she is keen to play an active role in driving this further at Microsoft and sharing that journey and learnings with the Partner Ecosystem.