Author: Tiina Rolig, HR Director, Microsoft Finland
As HR Director of Microsoft Finland, my key role is to support the well-being of our current and future employees – and that means systematically increasing diversity and ensuring that all employees – regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or education – feel included and can be their authentic selves at work.
When I started my career in Human Resources, diversity and inclusion topics were not [often] on the management/board agenda in Finland – or on the HR’s agenda, either. Even today, D&I measures at some companies are not really visible outside of Women’s Day celebrations or annual reports. As a recent joiner at Microsoft, it has been great to notice that we have diversity and inclusion embedded into our practices, policies, and rhythms of work at every level.
In fact, diversity and inclusion are built into our core mission, “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” as the mission can only be fulfilled when everyone is included. Microsoft is pursuing a change on a societal level, which means we need to do more than put up posters or write a check: each of our employees has a role in creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive culture.
From HR’s perspective, our built-in D&I commitment means taking diversity and inclusion into consideration in everything from D&I strategy to day-to-day operations. In recruiting new employees, for instance, we have a “screen in” approach where we instead of focusing on eliminating applicants, seek ways they could join and enrich our work and culture. We also regularly review our talent and D&I practices and measure their success.
Allyship in action
At Microsoft, we put our diversity and inclusion agenda to practice through our allyship program. We see an ally as a person who has made a commitment to understand, empathize, and support their colleagues. For us, allyship is focused on learning, not shaming others. The goal is to listen and learn before acting, as we can be more effective as informed allies and not just eager, even if well-meaning, allies.
People often think of inclusion related to gender or ethnicity, but a truly inclusive workplace considers other factors, as well: there is diversity within diversity. I, for instance, need to understand that my personal experiences as a woman gained during my career are not the experience of all women, even of women of same age, nationality, or socio-economic status. This means that as allies, we need to also recognize our own privileges and prejudices, and continuously work on eliminating them.
Power of the ecosystem
According to Technology Industries of Finland, the technology sector will need 130,000 new experts in Finland in 10 years. Microsoft’s ambition is to help Finland train 50,000 new skilled and 50,000 up-skilled tech talents within the next 5 years. To reach this goal, we need to increase representation and allyship in the full ecosystem.
Organizations and networks such as Women in Tech play a significant role in this by supporting and promoting women in the industry. We hope to inspire other partners, customers, and actors in the ecosystem to develop their D&I practices, as well, as a healthy, inclusive, and diverse ecosystem benefits everyone.
“People often think of inclusion related to gender or ethnicity, but a truly inclusive workplace considers other factors, as well: there is diversity within diversity.
I, for instance, need to understand that my personal experiences as a woman gained during my career are not the experience of all women, even of women of same age, nationality, or socio-economic status. This means that as allies, we need to also recognize our own privileges and prejudices, and continuously work on eliminating them.“
We at Microsoft have our D&I programs and KPIs, but you do not need an official roadmap to be inclusive or to be a good ally. I have learnt it’s all about the everyday actions and gestures. Take the time to think about what inclusion means in your community and learn from people around you. Be curious and listen.