Why do we need diversity and inclusion?


"Diversity is 'I am different'… inclusion is 'I matter'… and, as a businessperson, I have impact."

These are the thoughts of Kathleen Hall, Microsoft CVP of Global Advertising and Research. It's a statement that beautifully captures Microsoft's focus on cultural transformation. We fundamentally believe that we need a culture founded in a growth mindset. This culture starts with the belief that everyone can grow and develop; that potential is nurtured, not predetermined; and that anyone can change their viewpoint.

We always need to learn and be insatiably curious to help understand our customers. Our willingness to lean into uncertainty, take risks, and quickly learn from mistakes teaches us that failure happens along the way to mastery. We also need to be open to the ideas of others, where their success doesn't diminish our own. We strive to harness the power in having a diverse and inclusive workplace that can build across all Microsoft resources for the benefit of our clients. This way of thinking genuinely helps us make a difference together, and provides a return on purpose.

If we step back and observe the exponential growth and changes occurring around the world, we begin to recognize that technology and connectivity are removing borders and boundaries. Globalization and the flow of information allow us to share ideas and communicate easier, which brings a broad array of perspectives and insights.

The facts

First, let's get curious and grounded in some of the facts:

  • By 2044, there will be no clear ethnicity in the world.
  • There are more than 1 billion people in the world with a disability, which makes them approximately 14% of the global population.
    • Only 10% of people with disabilities have access to the products and services they need.
    • When you include family and close friends of people with disabilities, this market reaches an additional 2.3 billion people, who collectively control an incremental $6.9 trillion in annual disposable income.
  • In the US, the millennial population has surpassed the baby boomer figure and is the first generation to grow up surrounded by technology.
  • In 2017, 40% of the US workforce was made up of the millennial and Gen Z population.
  • The estimated buying power of all LGBTQI+ is $3.6 trillion.
  • 80% of buying decisions are made by women, with global female buying power at $40 trillion.

Diversity without inclusivity doesn't bring opportunity. We need inclusivity and empathy to bring about the true change that can lead to more significant and equitable benefits for all.

Microsoft's commitment to D&I says that, "Only by actively engaging different perspectives can we challenge and stretch our thinking, enrich the experience of our employees, and empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more."

We want to see every person and every community grow, innovate, and thrive. Our company mission isn't just a guiding principle; it's part of our DNA. We stand for every person and every organization. To bring the power of technology to everyone, we must understand what "everyone" really means. This pledge requires us to seek and find any community or group of people that lacks access or opportunity, particularly the hidden ones.

This means:

  • Listening more than having all the answers.
  • A commitment to dive deeper, to not just understand the barriers and challenges that exist today, but to examine why they're there, then commit to removing them.
  • Committing to being inclusive in all aspects of what we do, how we show up, and the technologies we build.
  • Caring about every person as an individual in their role as part of a community.
  • Focusing on partnering with others so that they can be great, not concentrating on greatness for ourselves.

What we need to do

Good ideas, beliefs, and technologies aren't enough. We must convert food intentions into tangible actions to enable the builders of the future to create great things for themselves and their communities. These actions need to be persistent and enduring to drive meaningful impact. We have to commit to a long-term journey.

Across Microsoft, we have teams who are bringing this mission to life by defining and weaving the principles of D&I into the unique areas of their business, whether it's applied in gaming, AI, or the cloud. Creating an inclusive culture is the cornerstone for all teams and how they accomplish great things. While this process starts with our focus on diversity in our hiring and inclusiveness in our work environment, it doesn't stop there. We need to incorporate areas like inclusive design, with a focus on creating great products for the largest number of people. Also, Inclusive Marketing strives to reflect human values, allowing each individual to see themselves in relation to the product, service, or experience.

It's our belief that some people might know what they want to do, but they don't know how. Others might not even realize what's possible. Providing access to the power of cloud technologies that enable everyone to thrive is our goal, and represents true equity. Only when that happens will we live up to our stated mission.