Inspiring Community and Collaboration During Black History Month and Beyond

 |   MSNE Staff

BHM Food Fair

At Microsoft New England, we’re always asking how we can empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. This begins here at our own offices, where we strive to engage different perspectives and experiences so everyone can thrive.

Our employee resource groups (ERGs) are one way that we build a supportive community across diverse groups within Microsoft. These groups connect our teams across identities to provide career development, networking, and mentorship, while also hosting activities that promote community engagement and cultural awareness.

In honor of Black History Month, we’re highlighting BAM, the ERG for black and African employees at Microsoft. BAM not only provides opportunities to connect employees within Microsoft, it also hosts events and mentoring programs that engage the local community. BAM empowers Black individuals in technology, from a scholarship program for high school seniors pursuing a career in technology, to Minority Student Day — a chance for students to see Microsoft’s campus (and its career opportunities) up close.

Let’s hear from two Microsoft employees on what BAM is all about!

BAM Member Andrew FrancisqueAndrew Francisque is a software engineer on Microsoft’s Commercial Software Engineering team. He also plays a lead role in planning BAM’s external events that aim to bring more people of color into the tech space.

He says, “I’ve found a supportive, intelligent, and driven second-family in BAM. Before coming to Microsoft, I didn’t know what it was like to be an established Black software engineer. To be able to work with some on a regular cadence, as I work towards becoming established myself? Amazing.”

As a first-generation American, Andrew says that #MicrosoftLife is “blessed and surreal. I’m working a dream job, on a dream team, and, most importantly, I’m making my parents proud. And I think any first-generation American will agree that there’s a special kind of joy that comes from that.”

BAM Member Marco DentonMarco Denton is a business expert for the SMB/EDU team at our office in Burlington, MA. As a BAM member, he’s had the opportunity to attend discussions on race and equality, and has served as a mentor here at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center (NERD) for students of color interested in the technology field.

“[BAM] has helped me feel included as an equal with my peers regardless of what role we have in the company,” he says. “I meet so many different people in my role that come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences, so it’s great to be a part of a group like this. It helps me understand why an individual is where they are and how they got there.”

 

 


BAM and community members hosted several events to celebrate Black History Month together.

BHM Just Mercy Outing
BAM members and allies gather to watch Just Mercy, a movie about world-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson.

BAM members and allies gathered for a screening and discussion of the movie Just Mercy. After the movie, they hosted a discussion back at NERD.

In a separate event, BAM and allies invited NERD employees to a “Through the Lens of BAM Immigrants” food fair, where community members shared their favorite foods from their birth countries. They enjoyed saheena, aloo pie, pelau and more traditional dishes.

BHM Food Fair
BAM members and allies enjoy and sample delicious food while learning about each other’s home countries.

Additionally, we were proud to support students and community members this month at Hack for Inclusion, a student-led hackathon hosted here at NERD that brought together students, practitioners, and community members to build solutions that address some of today’s biggest problems related to bias and inclusion. 

Hack for Inclusion
Sloan for Inclusion and Hacking Discrimination partner to present Hack for Inclusion: a hackathon to combat bias.

Teams addressed 14 challenges ranging from increasing the representation of women in tech to changing stigmas around mental illness.

We’re grateful to work with inspiring colleagues who are committed to learning from each other on a daily basis, and we’re excited to continue developing a collaborative environment that brings the power of diversity to life.

Learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.