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Microsoft, The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, Tackle Workplace Diversity

Talent Panel at Microsoft Ignite 2018

MICROSOFT ENVISION It’s time to embrace the future of talent and changes impacting the world of work, particularly considering digital transformation and the challenge to fill critical IT positions and foster robust work environments.

While the volume on conversations about diversity has increased, the changes looming over the world of work also include flexibility and the rise of the multigenerational workforce. At the same time, you can’t talk about this topic without addressing the economic and skills gap. And that’s exactly what moderator Christina Hall, senior vice president and chief people officer at LinkedIn; and panelists Francesca Geno, Harvard Professor and author of Rebel Talent; and Chuck Edward, head of global talent acquisition at Microsoft discussed in the session, “Talent and the New World of Work” Wednesday at Microsoft Envision in Orlando, Florida.

Addressing diversity, the panelists acknowledged what keeps rising to the top, and that is that the evidence is clear — diversity improves team performance and decision making. Also, millennials are more likely to stay at a company where they see a diverse workforce.

There’s an uncomfortable truth, however, about diversity that doesn’t get discussed.

“Leaders make a difference there,” said Geno. “It’s like going to the gym — no pain, no gain. In the moment, being challenged by a diversity of opinions during a discussion at a meeting doesn’t feel good, but you need to accept that pain. Leaders needed to create an environment where differences in perspectives are welcome and are viewed as additive rather than detractive.”

Companies that are successful at diversity don’t view it as a problem to solve; instead, they leverage differences.

Trevor Noah and Brad Smith at Microsoft Ignite 2018

The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah (left) on stage at Microsoft Envision with Microsoft’s Brad Smith, Sept. 26.

In the closing Envision keynote with Trevor Noah, comedian and businessman, and Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, Noah commented on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“It’s not charity,” he said.

“We need to live in a world where people acknowledge that, unfortunately, you’re more likely see and want to hire someone who reminds you of you, whether you realize it or not. Innately as a human, you think they’ll be least likely to disrupt my world.”

While Noah said that’s not necessarily a bad thing, what’s important is how you act on it.

Microsoft’s Edward noted that at Microsoft they talk about inclusion rather than diversity.

“It’s the idea that you can track who gets invited to a given party, but do they want to stay at that party? What makes someone want to stay at your company and, more importantly, do their best work. People have to feel safe, they have to feel supported and they have to feel like they can lead the dialogue,” he said.

Diversity isn’t about fitting in or assimilating.

Microsoft is rethinking the hiring screening process by moving away from …

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