(Women at Microsoft (WAM) hosts and guest speakers gathered at the annual Better Together event. Left to right: Katy Brown, Pat Wadors, Alessandra Ginante Yockelson, Lybra Clemons, Cheri Devlin, Shaili Desai)
This month our Women at Microsoft (WAM) employee group hosted its fifth annual Better Together event. The summit is geared toward empowering women leaders, across Microsoft and the larger Bay Area, through career advice and learning workshops. This year was the largest yet with over 150 women and allies showing up from Microsoft, local customers, and our partner network within the region.
Our own Shaili Desai and Cheri Devlin hosted the event this year which was rooted in diversity and inclusion. Networking prior to the speaking sessions allowed those present to discuss what authentic inclusion means to them in their everyday lives. Along with being encouraged to connect with each other in a meaningful way, attendees were able to test new Microsoft devices (Surface Hubs, Power Point, Teams, HoloLens) and interact with non-profits like Multiple Sclerosis Society and Code Tenderloin.
Special guest Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Chief Diversity Officer at Microsoft, kicked off the event with a keynote that shared insights into how to include everyone, what being a true ally means, and how we can support each other to avoid covering poor workplace behavior.
“In this rapidly evolving political and social environment, we can’t talk about being inclusive as if it were something easy, or we avoid acknowledging the hard work it entails,” McIntyre said. “Building diverse and inclusive environments takes a willingness by everyone to step into the challenge, call out noninclusive behavior when we see it, have candid conversations, address the reality of privilege, and consciously choose to bring in people who differ from us. Difference initially adds tension, but ultimately leads to better, more innovative thinking.”
(Lindsay-Rae McIntyre addressing attendees at the annual Better Together event hosted by WAM Silicon Valley)
This was followed by a panel focused on how to build allyship and bring your most authentic self to work every day. Our own Katy Brown, vice president of enterprise sales, west region, moderated a panel that featured Pat Wadors, ServiceNow CHRO; Lybra Clemons, Global Diversity and Inclusion Lead at PayPal; and Alessandra Ginante Yockelson, HPe CHRO. Each of these women brought their own unique perspective to the conversation. They addressed topics such as leadership, digital and cultural transformation, and tackled difficult questions when it comes to inclusion in today’s workplace.
The event also featured two impactful sessions from Shelley Winner and host Cheri Devlin. Each of them discussed their own career journeys, and touched on themes of personal transformation, giving back to the community, and how Microsoft empowered them to pursue their passion. Microsoft technology partner Avanade then sponsored the reception event where more meaningful conversations and connections were made.
We look forward to the summit every year as an inspiring event people can walk away from with a better understanding of what it means to be inclusive. This event was made possible by regional WAM chapter board members, Karen Leonard and Emily Tohir.
Learn more about Microsoft’s diverse and inclusive culture at Microsoft.com/diversity or read our 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Report. If you’d like to join our diverse community of professionals in the Bay Area opportunities can be found here: https://aka.ms/MicrosoftBayAreaCareers