Microsoft India has recently hosted Confluence 2017, its annual diversity and inclusion conference in Hyderabad. Confluence is a platform through which Microsoft strives to create an environment to harness the diversity of employees and the inclusion of ideas and solutions to meet the needs of increasingly global and diverse customer base.
Started as a conference for women employees ten years ago, Confluence has continued to evolve over the years, to keep pace with the changing societal trends, evolving workplace practices and needs of the participants. Focusing on the three pillars of diversity – gender, generational and abilities, Confluence enabled discussions on the power of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation, growth and societal impact. It focused on expanding inclusive practices, exploring opportunities and understanding challenges faced by different employee groups and to building a work culture that helps overcome biases.
The day-long conference was a culmination of Confluence Week which started on April 17 and saw participation from over 1200 employees across all Microsoft offices in India. The employees displayed their interest in D&I dialogue by participating in various workshops, contests, panel discussions and speaker sessions.
One of the segments at Confluence includes celebrity speaker session, the speakers for which are chosen from diverse and interesting backgrounds / career fields. This year the three speakers included – Deepa Malik, Indian athlete and the first Indian woman to win a medal in Paralympic Games, Gul Panag, eminent actor-producer and social entrepreneur and Ireena Vittal, former CEO McKinsey & Co. These speakers interacted with participants, shared their work and life experiences.
The breakout sessions were focused on three pillars of diversity – gender, generational and abilities and engaged participants through simulation, role plays and other immersive experiences. Some of these included, Listen Deeply Workshop which was designed to discover the power of communication through an interesting ‘reconstruct-the-story’ format, that explored the role of listening deeply, empathy, verbal and non-verbal language in effectively collaborating with colleagues from different generations. Another session focused on unlocking human potential through accessible technology. Disable the Bias track, through a simulation-based workshop, helped experience the world of those with physical and cognitive impairments, and understand what constitutes an inclusive work environment.
Building a diverse and inclusive work environment is at the core of Microsoft’s mission of empowering every individual and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Speaking from the event, Ira Gupta, Director Human Resources, Microsoft India said “Microsoft’s evolving culture is rooted in diversity and inclusion, and is one of the greatest drivers in our journey to empower billions. We’ve learnt that inclusion is not an end goal – it is a journey and defines who we are. It determines how we reach the lives we are impacting, and how far we reach.” “The diversity of our workforce and inclusion of talented people from different backgrounds is the fuel that keeps the engines of innovation and growth running,” she added.