Throughout the pandemic, Microsoft supported its customers in the transition to fully remote or hybrid working, with many businesses around the world becoming reliant on Microsoft Teams. However, it sees its purpose as bigger than just providing software and services: it’s about empowering every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. ‘It’s not about the technology; it’s about the impact,’ says Andrea Winfield, General Manager, HR Western Europe.

Organisation: Microsoft UK & Ireland
Sector: Technology
Size: Around 5,000 people

Connecting with community

At the height of the pandemic, the firm partnered with the Government, customers and partners to ensure the sustainability and reliability of technology solutions and services critical to the national infrastructure, such as supporting the UK’s healthcare response and empowering education providers. This included the provision of free digital skills training to people made redundant or furloughed, and maintaining focus on its apprenticeship programmes.

Microsoft plays a leading role in developing the UK’s digital economy. In 2020, it launched ‘Get On’, a five-year campaign to help 1.5 million people build careers in technology and help 300,000 people connect to tech job opportunities. This is delivered through Microsoft’s ecosystem and network of partners.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a particularly interesting mechanism Microsoft uses to engage with different communities. The ERGs play a critical role internally and externally to build allyship and ensure inclusion for all. ‘We agree a strategic plan with every ERG and work with them to understand what barriers to inclusion exist within the organisation,’ says Winfield. ‘Each year we partner together to shift and change the culture, and align the budgets they need accordingly to deliver and empower lasting change.’

Role of the people profession

Employees expect organisations to play a leading role in solving some of the world’s toughest challenges, says Winfield. This is an essential accountability for leadership and the HR function alike. Workers across all industries increasingly hold employers to account for being socially responsible and a force for good.

ERGs and employee networks at Microsoft are encouraged to use the company and its assets to make a difference. ‘We are a family of individuals united by a single, shared mission,’ says Winfield. ‘It’s our ability to work together that makes our dreams believable and, ultimately, achievable. Through the ERGs we build on the ideas of others and collaborate across boundaries to bring the best of Microsoft to our customers and society.’

Whether you like it or not, the employee expectation is there that organisations have a vital role to play in solving some of the world's toughest challenges.

Andrea Winfield, General Manager, HR, Microsoft Western Europe

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