Include 2021: Engaging on diversity and inclusion with intention, as individuals and organizations

Today Microsoft kicks off Include 2021, a global diversity and inclusion event unlike anything we’ve ever done before.

This free digital event is open to all and brings together global experts in academia, social change, law, behavioral science and diversity and inclusion — experts like Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder and executive director of the African American Policy Forum, who will lead a discussion on understanding the social and political impacts of intersecting identities. In addition to these thought leaders, Microsoft employees and leadership will share stories and perspectives, and partners will offer insights into how they’re driving organizational change. If you haven’t yet, you can still join us for these important conversations today by registering on the Include 2021 site.

Opening the conversation this morning, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was joined on the virtual stage by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker to discuss how diversity and inclusion are essential for global businesses to succeed — and that is especially true for Microsoft, where it is woven throughout all we do.

“When we talk about our sense of purpose, our mission, we say empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” Satya said. “If we want to empower everyone in the world, we better represent the world inside. More than that, we need to include the world that we represent inside.”

Darren also shared that this moment is one of urgency and that diversity and inclusion is “an imperative, it is not an option.”

“This issue is front and center — CEOs and boards are talking about this issue, prioritizing it, and attaching to it measures and metrics for accountability,” he said. “We are seeing genuine transformation — a move from tokenism to real transformation.”

In just a few moments, I’ll join my colleagues Nick Parker, CVP of Global Partner Solutions, and Fred Humphries, CVP of U.S. Government Affairs, to discuss the neuroscience behind inclusion, share insights on how diversity drives innovation and business growth, and explore the global impact of diversity and inclusion across sectors and industries.

But this is first and foremost a day about gaining insights from others. Microsoft doesn’t have all the answers and we recognize that when it comes to diversity and inclusion, we still have a long way to go. This is an opportunity to build momentum on the work we have been doing in this space for some time now. Throughout the day we will engage with many speakers who bring expertise across a range of issues, including allyship, covering, intersectionality, identity, privilege, gender, disability, race and ethnicity, age, faith, and mental health. Sessions to come include:

  • A deep dive on allyship and how we can activate that within the workplace with Dolly Chugh, professor at Stern School of Business, New York University.
  • A panel bringing a global perspective to conversations on race and ethnicity with Michael Eric Dyson, professor of African American Studies, Diaspora Studies, and Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University; Dr. Adrienne Keene, creator and author of the Native Appropriations blog; and Dr. Balmurli Natrajan, professor of anthropology at William Paterson University.
  • A discussion on mental health and stigma with Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University.
  • An exploration of faith conversations in the workplace with the Rev. Mark Fowler, CEO of Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, and Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
  • An exploration of how Brookings Institution is using research and insights to inform their focus on race and inequity.
  • A discussion with Sesame Workshop about how storytelling can help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder, and how stories enable us to teach about topics such as race.

While we don’t believe a single event will provide all the answers, our hope is that the conversations started during Include 2021 will continue long afterward. Beyond today, we will continue to encourage our community to engage in these issues with intention, purpose and relentless empathy — we invite others to do the same.

For those unable to join us in real time today, some of the session recordings and partner case studies will also be available on demand later this year at our Inclusion Journey site. This site includes some of our neuroscience-based learning resources on inclusion that anyone can use, stories from our community, and additional thought leadership from external experts. We will add more partner and customer case studies, expert insights and employee stories in the coming months and years.

As Darren shared this morning: “This is not easy work. If it were easy work, it would have been done a long time ago. It’s not easy because it requires intentionality to disrupt certain norms, practices, structures.”

At Microsoft, we believe inclusion is a choice we each must make, both on the individual and organizational level. We know real progress doesn’t happen without real work. We hope you will join us today and in the ongoing work we will do together.

Tags: diversity, Include 2021, inclusion