Here at Microsoft, we believe that engaging and amplifying different voices encourages us all to learn and thrive. One way we bring visibility to underrepresented communities and train our employees into allies is through our employee resource groups.
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), we’re highlighting AZN, Microsoft New England’s employee resource group for Asian communities.
Meet two AZN New England members to hear more about what the group is all about.
Juhi Paralkar is a software engineer on our Intune team. As a member of the AZN leadership team, Juhi helps to bring events, cultural exchanges, and learning opportunities to the greater NERD (Microsoft New England Research & Development) community.
“I see it as my way to give back to the community and empower every individual to be their best version of themselves,” she says. “Being a part of the AZN community has given me a sense of belonging and also encouraged me to extend myself as an ally.”
Janhavi Mahajan is a software engineer with our Responsible AI team. She says, “When I joined Microsoft, I was thrilled to hear about the AZN community because staying away from family made me realize how much I missed celebrating festivals and traditions together.”
To Janhavi, #MicrosoftLife isn’t just about building products with cutting-edge technologies; it’s about “being part of a community that is full of passionate, talented, and inclusive individuals.” AZN helps her to feel a part of this community. She says, with AZN “I learn about other cultures and I get the chance to share Indian culture with others in the community.”
In a series of 5-minute lightning talks, AZN members shared pieces of their cultures with fellow AZN members and allies in an effort to encourage better understanding of Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities and reduce stereotypes.
AZN also hosted a panel discussion to explore the economic effect of COVID-19 on Asian businesses and what AZN members can do to help. The discussion featured three external speakers: Sam Hyun, executive director of the Korean-American Citizens League of New England; Justin Kang, a leader in the Boston nonprofit community working toward racial equity; and Ian So, local entrepreneur and owner of Chicken & Rice Guys.
The panelists shared that a few ways to support Asian small businesses and the Asian community include amplifying individual voices, buying local, mentoring and volunteering, being vocal against discrimination, and voting.
Throughout the month AZN members participated in a cultural photo raffle for charity. Participants submitted a photo showcasing their culture for a chance to make a donation to a charity of their choice.
One AZN member shared her project to grow perilla leaves, a popular Korean leafy vegetable used to wrap rice and meats.
All of us at Microsoft New England are grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from colleagues from many different cultures and backgrounds.