On June 25, Microsoft will join 250 other companies to celebrate the 44th annual Pride in London festival. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) event first started as a parade in 1972 to take a stance against discrimination and violence towards people who were LGBT and to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Since then many cities around the world, including London, have transformed this parade into a weekend festival that celebrates LGBT culture and freedom.
At Microsoft, we encourage every employee to come as you are and do what you love. To empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more you need to show diversity and inclusiveness. Celebrating Pride in London is a crucial milestone as we strive to create a safe welcoming work environment for employees, customers and partners. Satya Nadella, Microsoft chief executive, recently thanked GLEAM (the LGBT employee resource group at Microsoft) allies for being themselves and their contribution to Microsoft. Nadella also stated that “Pride is not about Microsoft but our influence on taking our cultural values and making the world adopt them”.
Theresa McHenry, Microsoft UK Senior HR Director, talks about the importance of diversity in the workplace and supporting the LGBT community
Pride is not just for the LGBT community. This year, Microsoft launched the LGBT Ally Employee programme, which has received an overwhelmingly positive response with more 200 people signing up on May 17 – The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Allies are individuals who do not identify as LGBT and believe that LGBT people should be free to be themselves and love who they want to love. Allies have a vital role to play in creating inclusive environments and they’re key to advancing fair treatment for LGBT people at work, home and in their communities.
The global GLEAM Pride theme this year is #HelloPride, linking openness with the new Windows 10 feature – Windows Hello, which allows users to unlock their PC without needing a password. Pride is about being yourself, which is one of the reasons why Windows Hello is our Pride theme this year. Additionally, in the UK, we have a subtheme linking to Windows Hello with the strapline “Be yourself with a smile”.
As Pride approaches, Microsoft wants to boost our LGBT employees’ engagement. The number of Microsoft employees attending Pride on London over the past eight years has risen. However, when compared with the total number of Microsoft UK employees, this amount is small.
The recent events at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, have shocked not just the LGBT community but the entire world, too. Forty-nine people were killed, making the attack the worst mass shooting in recent US history. On June 13, the day after the shootings, #LoveisLove trended on Twitter for 48 hours, while similar hashtags included #Lovewins & #PrayforOrlando. Social media brings the LGBT community closer and is a great catalyst for change.
Today, the LGBT community has lots of support. From inspirational icons such as Ellen DeGeneres and Sir Ian McKellen to local Pride allies such as Microsoft UK Managing Director Michel van der Bel and Microsoft UK HR Director Theresa McHenry. Although homophobia is still a hot topic and is still present in schools, public places and on social media, we are on a mission to change what it means to be LGBT.
From all of us at Microsoft, have a happy Pride.
For more information about GLEAM and LGBT at Microsoft, visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/diversity/inside-microsoft/glbt/default.aspx.
By Robson Smith, Lab and Support Engineer at Microsoft, and Maria Alexandra Ilie, Business Analyst at Microsoft’s UK Service Centre