Mi­crosoft cel­e­brates Con­flu­ence


Mi­crosoft In­dia has re­cently hosted Con­flu­ence 2017, its an­nual diver­sity and in­clu­sion con­fer­ence in Hy­der­abad. Con­flu­ence is a plat­form through which Mi­crosoft strives to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment to har­ness the diver­sity of em­ploy­ees and the in­clu­sion of ideas and so­lu­tions to meet the needs of in­creas­ingly global and di­verse cus­tomer base.

Started as a con­fer­ence for women em­ploy­ees ten years ago, Con­flu­ence has con­tin­ued to evolve over the years, to keep pace with the chang­ing so­ci­etal trends, evolv­ing work­place prac­tices and needs of the par­tic­i­pants. Fo­cus­ing on the three pil­lars of diver­sity – gen­der, gen­er­a­tional and abil­i­ties, Con­flu­ence en­abled dis­cus­sions on the power of diver­sity and in­clu­sion in driv­ing in­no­va­tion, growth and so­ci­etal im­pact. It fo­cused on ex­pand­ing in­clu­sive prac­tices, ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and un­der­stand­ing chal­lenges faced by dif­fer- ent em­ployee groups and to build­ing a work cul­ture that helps over­come bi­ases.

The day-long con­fer­ence was a cul­mi­na­tion of Con­flu­ence Week which started on April 17 and saw par­tic­i­pa­tion from over 1200 em­ploy­ees across all Mi­crosoft of­fices in In­dia. The em­ploy­ees dis­played their in­ter­est in D&I di­a­logue by par­tic­i­pat­ing in var­i­ous work­shops, con­tests, panel dis­cus­sions and speaker ses­sions.

One of the seg­ments at Con­flu­ence in­cludes celebrity speaker ses­sion, the speak­ers for which are cho­sen from di­verse and in­ter­est­ing back­grounds / ca­reer fields. This year the three speak­ers in­cluded – Deepa Ma­lik, In­dian ath­lete and the first In­dian woman to win a medal in Par­a­lympic Games, Gul Panag, em­i­nent ac­tor-pro­ducer and so­cial en­tre­pre­neur and Ireena Vit­tal, for­mer CEO McKin­sey & Co. These speak­ers in­ter­acted with par­tic­i­pants, shared their work and life ex­pe­ri­ences.

The break­out ses­sions were fo­cused on three pil- lars of diver­sity – gen­der, gen­er­a­tional and abil­i­ties and en­gaged par­tic­i­pants through sim­u­la­tion, role plays and other im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ences. Some of these in­cluded, Lis­ten Deeply Work­shop which was de­signed to dis­cover the power of com­mu­ni­ca­tion through an in­ter­est­ing ‘re­con­struct-the-story’ for­mat, that ex­plored the role of lis­ten­ing deeply, em­pa­thy, ver­bal and non­ver­bal lan­guage in ef­fec­tively col­lab­o­rat­ing with col­leagues from dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions. Another ses­sion fo­cused on un­lock­ing hu­man po­ten­tial through ac­ces­si­ble tech­nol­ogy. Dis­able the Bias track, through a sim­u­la­tion-based work­shop, helped ex­pe­ri­ence the world of those with phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive im­pair­ments, and un­der­stand what con­sti­tutes an in­clu­sive work en­vi­ron­ment.

Build­ing a di­verse and in­clu­sive work en­vi­ron­ment is at the core of Mi­crosoft’s mis­sion of em­pow­er­ing ev­ery in­di­vid­ual and ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion on the planet to achieve more. Speak­ing from the event, Ira Gupta, Direc­tor Hu­man Re­sources, Mi­crosoft In­dia said “Mi­crosoft’s evolv­ing cul­ture is rooted in diver­sity and in­clu­sion, and is one of the great­est driv­ers in our jour­ney to em­power bil­lions. We’ve learnt that in­clu­sion is not an end goal – it is a jour­ney and de­fines who we are. It de­ter­mines how we reach the lives we are im­pact­ing, and how far we reach.” “The diver­sity of our work­force and in­clu­sion of tal­ented peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds is the fuel that keeps the en­gines of in­no­va­tion and growth run­ning,” she added.

Ira Gupta, Direc­tor Hu­man Re­sources, Mi­crosoft In­dia

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