Hyderabad: Microsoft India welcomed 500 plus employees to its 11th annual diversity and inclusion conference, Confluence 2018, at its Hyderabad campus. This signature platform, continually evolving to reflect Microsoft’s inclusive approach, highlighted key aspects of Diversity – gender, generational, abilities and intersectionality with an aim to bring greater focus on inclusiveness at Microsoft.
“At Confluence 2018, we celebrated our own diversity and inclusion practices and processes and learnt from others in the industry and in society. As Microsoft, we encourage our employees to work together within their peer groups inside and outside the organization to make India a more inclusive place” said Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India.
Since its inception, Confluence has kept pace with the changing societal trends, evolving workplace practices and needs of the participants over the years. This year the forum provided deep discussions on the power of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in driving innovation, growth and societal impact. With a focus on understanding the nuances of fresh concepts of D&I like intersectionality, experts explained the complex and cumulative ways that different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, and intersect—especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups.
The forum also discussed expanding inclusive practices, as well as the opportunities and challenges faced by different employee groups. Microsoft has a rich community of employee resource groups (ERGs) that are initiated and chartered by employees and sponsored by company leaders. The groups provide a sense of community in the workplace, offer a platform for their members to discuss relevant challenges and opportunities, and enable joint efforts on common areas of interests. ERGs provide a mutually beneficial relationship for Microsoft and its employees wherein members voluntarily work together to align with the Microsoft’s Global Diversity and Inclusion strategy.
The day-long conference featured several engaging activities. It was attended by Microsoft employees from across India, who came together at the company’s Hyderabad campus, participating in person, as well as via Skype. Interactive workshops, panel discussions and inspiring stories were the highlights of Confluence 2018. Inspirational speakers – Chetna Gala Sinha, Indian social activist, Hitesh Ramchandani, author, motivational speaker & coach, and Nandita Das, actor, director, advocate of issues of social justice, were also a part of Confluence this year. The day’s discussions included deliberation on teaching entrepreneurial skills to rural women, on self believe and unwavering determination and on the importance of voicing issues that need to be told.
Various breakout sessions engaged participants in simulation and sensitization workshops. Some of these included DisAbility sensitization workshop , GiftAbled, designed to break myths around working with people with disabilities. Another session named Face Your Reflection, by DIAN was an emotionally impactful workshop on self-reflection to help managers better understand gender bias and exclusion, deal with real workplace issues and work together to solve these problems through real life examples. #Take a stand- Be
Brave was yet another session on building allies and employees attended the session with a learning buddy to demystify the gender differences.