The Diversity And Inclusion Blog Series: Our First Thoughts

screen-shot-2017-03-14-at-11-15-44-amThis post was written by Microsoft Global Manager Karen Juhl and Microsoft Community Program Manager Betsy Weber. Photo by MVP Karen Lopez

Diversity + Inclusion = Success  

We believe this same equation is applicable to our MVP community, as well to technical communities worldwide. Diversity is defined as the condition of having or being composed of differing elements. Inclusion is the state of being included. And when we apply this to our communities, it means we want to have MVPs who are different and unique, as well as have everyone feel included and accepted in our program. As leaders in the technical community, we believe that MVPs can play a significant role in making sure everyone feels welcome. 

In this, we are pleased to announce the Diversity and Inclusion blog series. Through it, we aim to continue the conversation around how to push for an inclusive culture within our community.

The Diversity and Inclusion panel at the MVP Global Summit in November 2016 was a great start. It was powerful to hear from MVPs and Microsoft employees about their experiences, and about what has worked to create inclusive environments. Personally, we were blown away by the number of MVPs who showed up and the conversations that continued during the reception. This demonstrates the interest from our MVPs in raising awareness and talking about diversity and inclusion. 

We are both very excited to be able to lead the efforts around diversity and inclusion, as it's a topic we're passionate about. Why?  

For me, Karen, it's the desire to create an environment where everyone can authentically show up and engage. I also want to influence the broader tech and business environment to continue to understand that diversity is good, as it ensure different points of view are taken into consideration.  I started my career in Aerospace and then moved into Technology.  I've definitely spent a lot of time being the only - or one of a very small number - of women in meetings or at events.  It can feel lonely when you feel like you stand out from the rest of the crowd.

I want to be sure we are making everyone feel welcome as a part of the MVP program.  I know that MVPs can also influence others, and I want our MVPs to be role models and mentors for others to join into the tech industry and into technical communities.  This starts by making sure the MVP program is diverse and inclusive.  I want to make sure we are listening, learning, and pushing ourselves to continue to grow and get better. 

For me, Betsy, it's about leading by example. I've always worked in the Tech industry. Ask any diverse person or woman in tech and they'll have a story for you - sometimes is a sad story and sometimes it's a happy one. Often I was the only woman on the team that I was leading. I didn't always have a role model at work, but I was motivated and empowered to take action to be an agent of change and BE the role model. I was fortunate that I had many great advocates and allies who respected my knowledge, experience, insights and contributions. But, I know not everyone has had this experience and I want to work toward a brighter future for everyone in the tech community.

I truly believe that diversity is the single most important key to success of the MVP Program, bar none. It must truly be ingrained in the fabric of the MVP Program. We must harness the diverse minds, talent and experience of everyone to ensure that we are taking full advantage of the skills and solutions they bring to the table. As role models and experts in the industry, MVPs must pave the way for others and be change agents. We are better together.  

We are looking forward to sharing more resources, insights, and learnings on diversity and inclusion. Together we can make our program and communities an even stronger place where everyone is welcomed and presented.  

We also want to work together on this journey.  If you are interested in being a part of the conversation and participating in an advisory council please join us on Yammer at