At Microsoft New England, we pride ourselves in our commitment to innovation, technology, and community. One way we carry through on this commitment is through the support of our employee resource groups (ERG), which help us build a supportive community across various diverse groups within Microsoft.
This past February, to celebrate Black History Month, our Africans at Microsoft and Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) Employee Resource Groups worked to bring that support to the forefront for our employees nationwide. Here in Cambridge, we focused on inclusion and propulsion, with special events designed for our team: a documentary screening, a trip to see Black Panther, and a professional development training for rising employees.
This training, titled Wired for Success, was put together by software engineer and BAM leader Nana Essilfie-Conduah with help from Microsoft’s Global Learning & Development team. Speaker Michelle Zou came to our NERD Center to explore how Microsoft employees of color can focus on their career trajectory within the company.
“I wanted to give BAM members a session that can help them explore their own career trajectories,” says Essilfie-Conduah. “How can they improve, think about where they’re at, and where they want to be? I also wanted to better equip managers on the site to deal with career decisions with employees of color.”
Zou explored how attendees can express their value throughout their career. Some highlights from her talk included:
- Going over different career development skills to use to intentionally position yourself as you build your career
- Looking at the value that you bring individually to your team, organization, or company
- Making your job a mission statement, especially when you are talking to other people
- Instead of “I’m an engineer” “I’m customer-focused,” “I’m interested in users’ issues,” focus on what makes you special. What are you passionate about?
Zou also focused on career mapping as a growth strategy. She suggested mapping out what your opportunities are for growth, including different opportunities within the company and freedom within your role. Some of her best advice was to build your own personal brand and brand statement, composing that out of one’s strengths (talent) and contributions (what talents deliver to the business). To wrap up, she discussed in groups ways to go about networking and how networking benefits employees at all levels.
“I think it’s really important to have representation for what you identify as,” explains organizer Essilfie-Conduah. “When you don’t have that support for what makes you different or what’s evident about you, it’s tough. You can get lost within the day-to-day and get forced to mold into a standard. You’re a lot more comfortable to be you when you have that environment where you can be comfortable being yourself. That’s what my team and I think.”
We’re excited to have employees like Nana help us build strategies to empower our employees every day, and we’re especially proud to carry forth our mission of diversity and inclusion alongside such great teammates.
Learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to diversity and inclusion here.