12 Apr 2022
For International Women’s Day 2022 we kickstarted our 'So She Did’ podcast — a celebration of the incredible women across our community as we venture forward on our mission to inspire women to believe they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
We’ll be hearing from women and girls across a spectrum of age groups, ethnicities, backgrounds and industries. We will learn from women who have trailblazed their way to the top, ones who are still figuring it out and those who are just getting started.
Today we’re chatting with Sophie Monery, University Recruiter at Microsoft and Ivy Kayima, Senior Talent Advisor, University Recruiter at Microsoft. Following a recent conversation with one of our Microsoft members at Tramshed Tech, we learnt that Microsoft are successfully attracting a diverse range of candidates and we wanted to better understand the measures and processes that Microsoft have put in place to ensure that they are attracting a diverse range of talent from around the world.
During this episode, Sophie and Ivy share insight into life in recruitment at Microsoft and how we can work towards removing barriers and unconscious bias throughout the recruitment process.
Microsoft immediately stood out to me as an inclusive environment compared to my previous workplaces. Ever since Satya Nadella joined as the CEO, he has completely reworked our company culture. As an example, we have just hired 36 interns and 48% of them are from the BAME community, which is a really high figure for the industry. Being open to diverse talent is something that has become embedded in our recruitment practices because it's a crucial part of improving representation and creating a more diverse company culture. It’s not just about race or gender, but age and neurodiversity as well.
Only 5% of women are looking to get into tech and only 5% of leadership positions are held by women. Looking at those figures, it’s quite sad because if someone wants to get into a particular company it's important that they see people that look like them. Being represented like that can help validate a potential candidate's intention to apply for a job — it gives them a sense that this is achievable.
Looking across the industry, I think Microsoft are leading the way with this with three females in the top leadership team. The same is true for people progressing within the company. Seeing a fellow woman or someone of the same ethnicity in a leadership position helps you to see how you can step up that ladder. That’s why I believe representation and having role models to look up to is a key way to improve diversity.
In the past we've hosted a lot of events and I always try to make sure that the panel includes at least one woman. When you have a panel discussion or careers fair – bring somebody who is a woman or from the BAME community. Things like that go a really long way because again you show diversity through representation.
Having at least one female on the panel is so important because you are able to ask them a different style of questions and get a unique perspective. It could be an opportunity to ask about their journey because obviously, it's not common thing having a woman in a big tech company. It is important if you have women coming through the pipeline, that there is a woman on these panel discussions to speak about how they got into their role, just so it shows that you can do it.
One experience really stands out. I can remember working for an agency and going to see a client meeting around recruitment pipeline. I had been emailing the manager back and forth but when I got there, his PA came out and she said, “Oh are you here for this cleaning position?” I could not understand why she just had this assumption that I could not possibly be there for any other reason. They knew my name and that I was coming for the meeting, but they clearly did not expect me to be a Black woman. I think that’s where representation can help challenge those stereotypes around this type of person does this type of job.
There’s nothing wrong with being a cleaner, I have respect for anybody who does that job. However, to be faced with assumption that you could not be here a senior level meeting because you are a Black woman just shows why we need to work towards better representation and a more diverse workplace.
At my previous company they would just look at the data on the CVs and make a judgement. We realised that was causing too much unconscious bias, so all the interview panel went on regular training to ensure that they weren't looking for a certain language style. Even judging people by their names as you can typically tell if someone is an international candidate, we then put in a new process to ensure that we were doing all the screening blind. I would then remove all personal data from a CV other than kind of their grades, any work experience, and that really helped.
That’s why it’s important to dig deeper around this idea of breaking the bias and making sure that every employer does all they can to ensure that they're making applicants and employees feel included.
There are two key things I would say. The first is around authenticity – always be yourself. A lot of people are daunted when they apply for an interview with Microsoft because they think it’s going to be a real technical grilling and it’s absolutely not like that especially for graduates or interns. We’re more interested in seeing how you approach problems and understanding your character, so just try and be yourself and bring that energy to the interview.
The second thing would be to connect and get yourself out there. Send your CV round to people and build your LinkedIn network. From what I see on my feeds, people are being a lot more creative with their posts to the point that it can become a powerful portfolio and can show potential employers your recent activity and that you actively engage with your network. It’s important to put yourself out there because you never know who is going to like that post. When it comes up on someone else’s feed, that could strike a chord and they might approach you for a role.
Another thing I would say is... Read the job description. When we are screening CVs, we want to make sure that you are putting yourself in the best position to get an interview and go through the process. Make sure you read through the job description carefully and reflect the requirements of the role.