New Microsoft tech quizzes will fundraise for regional causes, with focus on diversity and inclusion
Microsoft communities around the world are gearing up for a series of virtual pub quizzes on July 30. The events will challenge participants on their knowledge of Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and Microsoft 365, with a goal of raising money and awareness for local social justice causes.
The "Global Microsoft 365 Charity Quiz", aims to bring together communities that work with Microsoft applications in a setting that can build community and bring awareness to the challenges of improving diversity and inclusion in the technology sector.
The fundraising will directly support some of these goals, but the events are also a chance to work toward changing the mindset around diversity and inclusion in the workplace, especially in places where the matter and attitudes have seen little change over time.
"The goal is to improve awareness of [people in IT] and make it more relevant to improve this environment specifically," says Tricia Sinclair, a UK-based Dynamics 365 professional and one of the organizers of the global event. She told MSDW that the killing of George Floyd in the US and the resulting worldwide protest movement have encouraged her and others in the community to speak up about their own experiences as people of color, the continued challenges of diversity in the Microsoft channel, and the importance of acknowledging these issues more openly.
"Before [the protests of May and June] it was a very closed conversation. Now it's more open, and we're taking this opportunity to organize this quiz and tell [our] stories. [The message] would have been lost in the past," Sinclair said. People of color working in the Microsoft channel experience a range of hurdles stemming from a lack of diversity, she said, from dismissive comments and negative stereotypes in work settings to cultural differences to more fundamental challenges around building their careers in IT.
By having the conversation through a community event like a quiz, "the hope is that people will be more aware and thoughtful of colleagues. Be more aware that it's not that easy as a person of color to break into this industry."
Each of the seven separate July 30 events has selected its own charity to support based on the issues and needs that the organizers feel best represent their region. Registrants are asked to make a minimum donation to attend.
The UK event is raising money for Black Minds Matter, an organization that brings young people together to share experiences and challenges, support personal development, build skills, and encourage social action.
Australia and New Zealand are raising money for CommonGround, whose mission is to help Australians see the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Latin America (Spanish language) and the US are raising money for Black Lives Matter, which describes itself as "a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes."
Canada is raising money for Miskanawah, a social services organization for vulnerable children and youth with a focus on Indigenous teachings and traditions.
Africa is raising money for World Hope International, which "uses market-based and community-driven enterprise solutions to empower, protect, and build resiliency through innovative, environmentally conscious, and transformative projects" through local and global partnerships.
Brazil is raising money for Access Brazil, an organization that supports young people in vulnerable communities impacted by violence in Brazil through education in STEM, English, political engagement, and social responsibility.
Sinclair said the focus in organizing these events has been on community-based fundraising. Microsoft and other companies have made donations and matched employee donations. But the events have grown, some to more than a hundred signups, through grassroots efforts of organizers and participants.
Beyond the fundraising, organizers hope the increased awareness will carry conversations and actions forward beyond July 30.
"Being female and Black in this industry, it's very complicated," said Sinclair. "All I can do is make people aware of what's happening and hope for change. I can't force it, but I can make [the community] aware."