Growing up in the Punjab District of Amritsar in India, I had a simple and loving childhood surrounded by my parents, grandparents, and cousins. I cherished spending time with them, admiring their relationships and playing traditional games with friends like kite flying, marbles, and cricket. My parents also instilled in me the three golden rules of Sikhism: living honestly, pray to God, and share with the needy.
In my youth, my family took me to Pingalwara — a community of individuals who were sick, disabled, and forlorn — every weekend. This experience taught me the importance of giving back to society, not only through monetary assistance but also by empathizing, caring, and spending time with others. Through this, I also learned that when we help each other without expecting anything in return, we unknowingly cultivate humility and lose ego.
When I was 12, my family moved to America, to northern Virginia where I still live today. This transition was not without challenges, as my turban made me an easy target for bullying in school. Kids would give me weird looks, call me insulting names, and even try to touch my head, which left me feeling scared and lonely. Despite this, my family was my rock, supporting me through understanding and encouragement, reminding me of the importance of my identity and religion and to be confident in who I am.
Working at Microsoft for over six years, I have found camaraderie and support through the Families Employee Resource Group (ERG), where I connected with other parents through sharing our stories mostly about our kids. When my son was born in 2020, my priorities shifted towards creating a safe and inclusive environment for him. I realized that now I have the same responsibility in supporting and raising my child as a confident and kind Sikh just as my parents provided that foundation for me. It’s important to me that my son keeps his identity, understands his faith, and feels part of a supportive community.
Around that time I created a Sikhs at Microsoft affinity group to address the general lack of awareness and understanding about Sikh faith. The group provides education on Sikhism as well as a safe and inclusive space where everyone feels understood and can express their ideas and learn from each other.
Through my work with Microsoft’s brand team, and with the rise in acts of hate towards the Asian community in the past few years, I have sought to increase visual representation of my community by sourcing more photos of people wearing turbans to be used in marketing materials. This work in my opinion sends a message in the tech industry to be more inclusive of different identities and cultures.
As a Sikh, a father, and a Microsoft employee, I believe that embracing differences has a global impact, and by doing so, we can create inclusive technologies and a more welcoming world for all. I also believe that to bring about that change, we have to start with ourselves.
For more stories like Davinder’s visit: https://aka.ms/InclusionIsInnovation/Families