Diversity isn’t just good for people; it is good for business.

Organizations with a more diverse workforce perform better financially, according to research from McKinsey. Successful executives know their companies cannot thrive if they don’t have a diverse and inclusive workforce. New ideas, services and products come from the input of multiple voices, thus attracting new customers and differentiating them from competitors.

More than buzzwords

The meaning of the words diversity and inclusion has significantly evolved over the past two decades. While diversity generally referred to race, gender or sexual orientation, its meaning has expanded, now encompassing economic, educational and generational differences. Inclusion now communicates that all individuals are valuable to the organization, not only those who are “different”. Inclusivity highlights the importance to the opinions and skillsets of all employees.

I am proud to have the opportunity to lead Microsoft Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion committee where the programs we offer are centred around our people, culture and our customers.

People first

It all starts with your people. This is especially true at Microsoft Canada where the core purpose is to actively seek and foster greater levels of diversity in our workforce.  What attracts us to candidates is their passion for work and desire to make an impact not only in their careers, but also in the community and globally.

We are continuously and proactively recruiting top diverse talent and partnering with diverse academic organizations to develop strong IT curriculum among other initiatives.

Culture is key

Our inclusive culture at Microsoft Canada is defined by our core values of leadership, passion, integrity, collaboration and diversity. We foster a culture of inclusive behaviours by doing several things including; cultural competency training, diversity and inclusion training courses for all levels of employees, offering flexible work arrangements along with resources and tools to help employees achieve greater work life balance, to name a few.

We also offer a rich community of Employee Resource Groups and Networks which provide career development, support, networking opportunities, mentoring, community participation, product input and assistance in activities promoting cultural awareness. We encourage creativity and interests around STEM in our #MakeWhatsNext campaign and ‘Change the Odds’ video. This campaign partnership with LinkedIn inspires and provide youths with insights on achieving the careers they hope to have.

Customer commitment

Building the best solutions at Microsoft involves incorporating the talents of our workforce into our offerings, while recognizing the needs of our diverse suppliers, customers and partner base. Every day we strive to deliver technology innovation through our software, devices and services that inspire people of all ages and abilities, and eliminate barriers as well as improve lives.

A great example: Microsoft Services, together with colleagues in Bing, Research, and Platform Evangelism, partnered with a non-profit organization, Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, to imagine how technology might transform the lives of people with visual impairments. The 3-D Soundscape uses information from Bing and smart tags to help people navigate on their own following an audio beacon.

Bottom Line – Diversity is good for business.

Research from McKinsey & Company shows that companies who are diverse by gender outperform their male-dominated counterparts by 15%, while racially diverse companies outperform their peers by 35%.

Inclusion however means far more than just numbers. By utilizing the voices and talents of your diverse workforce, you not only increase profits but foster employee engagement and create a highly rewarding workplace.