On Wednesday, Microsoft was honored to be recognized with the American Bar Association’s (ABA) inaugural Champion for Disability Inclusion in the Legal Profession Award for in-house counsel.
|receives the American Bar Association’s (ABA) inaugural Champion for Disability Inclusion in the Legal Profession Award for in-house counsel.
Increasing diversity in the legal profession is a priority for Microsoft. In 2010, we signed the ABA’s “Pledge for Change: Disability Diversity in the Legal Profession” and affirmed our commitment to the inclusion of people with disabilities as an integral element of our overall diversity efforts. As part of that pledge, we established a dedicated disability diversity team to drive inclusion, created a toolkit to help legal recruiters navigate disability issues and led outreach to outside counsel on improving disability diversity and inclusion.
There is tremendous opportunity for technology to change people’s lives. The high tech industry can lead the way in creating new capabilities for people with impairment. Innovations such as built-in accessibility features enable personalized user experiences. Advances like telemetry and touch and speech recognition benefit not only Xbox gamers but can be used to support those with impairments. Assistive technology continues to be developed at ever lower costs. It will be important for the industry to work together to ensure interoperable products and services for persons with disabilities.
Microsoft is committed to doing our part. Later this month, we will host our third annual Ability Day program, bringing together employees with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities and our engineering communities to discuss inclusion and accessible design in products and services. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will keynote, along with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
Thanks to the efforts of ABA and others, such as our co-inaugural Champion Perkins Coie, the legal profession has made much-needed progress in breaking down barriers to participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities.
However, the need is still great. We are increasing awareness of the issues faced by those with disabilities, but we have a long way to go before accommodations for employees and citizens are easily available. We encourage all legal departments and law firms to champion diversity initiatives for people with disabilities. Ensuring career opportunities for people with impairment ensures that the best and brightest contribute to our nation’s productivity.