At Microsoft we talk a lot about being intentional and building a workforce that reflects the communities where we work around the world.
That intention was on full display last week in Oakland as Microsoft once again sponsored and actively participated in the AfroTech conference – an annual event that this year attracted 10,000 mostly African American and black tech professionals, start-ups, and entrepreneurs.
This year our presence was its biggest and boldest yet with our goals to build relationships, network, recruit top talent, and share our story. In addition, we welcomed several of our top executives to join us at the conference to connect with participants, learn from this community, and strengthen our partnership with AfroTech leadership.
“Being an Oakland native, and being able to come back home to Oakland to hire this great talent in the black community – it just warms our hearts. And I know I’m going to find some of the best talent here today.” – Billy Anders, Corporate Vice President, Azure CXP
(Microsoft and AfroTech leaders gathered to discuss how to continue building their partnership)
As part of our how we showed up, our booth space was the event’s largest for a corporate partner and here we were able to generate excitement and facilitate conversations with potential candidates about various open roles and opportunities.
We also demonstrated products such as the HoloLens and raffled Surface Headphones. LinkedIn, which is part of our broader Microsoft family of companies, was on hand to share its story, recruit, and of course, help attendees rock their LinkedIn profile by snapping headshots.
(Microsoft recruiters at our AfroTech booth ready to engage with top talent)
(One of our excited raffle winners with the new Surface Headphones)
Our presence also included hosting the panel, “Navigating a Career Path in Product and Engineering,” moderated by LinkedIn’s Jacqueline Jones, and featured our own Nate Yohannes and LinkedIn’s Sabry Tozin.
The room was packed for the discussion and key takeaways included advice such as not being afraid to fail, always seeking to sharpen key technical skills, and the importance of being a mentor and sponsor to others.
(Our own Nate Yohannes and LinkedIn’s Sabry Tozin with moderator Jacqueline Jones on-stage at AfroTech)
Other highlights of our conference experience included a happy hour sponsored by the black employee resource groups from Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub and a private networking event with our executives and more than 150 industry technical candidates.
As mentioned with the release our 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Report – our corporate mission, our scale, and our global reach affords us the responsibility to do far more than just raise awareness about inclusion.
For us, it is about how we are working to drive the conversation to have a meaningful, tangible impact on how people experience Microsoft products and services, and how they engage within our workplace and with the company in general.
Conferences like AfroTech and similar efforts help us make great strides here and we will continue to show up in these spaces because we know that our responsibility is not just to those who work with us, but to the larger technology industry, the industries we serve and the communities where we live.
Special thanks to our executives who supported this conference with their presence – Jason Zander, EVP Azure; Billy Anders, CVP Azure CXP; Albert Greenberg, CVP Azure Networking; Bharat Shah, CVP C+AI Security Engineering; Gayle Sheppard, CVP Azure Data; and Yu Ting Kuo, CVP Cognition.
And to the more than 200 Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub employees who made AfroTech 2019 a tremendous success – we see you and we appreciate you!
(Employees from Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub at our AfroTech welcome event)
More on our conference experience can be seen across our channels:
- Watch videos from the conference
- View photos from the Microsoft/LinkedIn/GitHub ERG welcome event
- View photos from the AfroTech conference
Building and educating a community is critical to democratizing new technology. If you are interested in helping and becoming part of ours, Bay Area job openings can be found here: https://aka.ms/MicrosoftBayAreaCareers.