Diversity in Action, Part 1 by Tameiko

Last week we flew out a senior level African American gentleman to interview for a position in our product group. He is not from this area (Seattle), so, we wanted to give him a chance to learn more about the city.  If you do not know anything about the Seattle area, it is not heavily populated with African Americans. < Actually let me use the word Blacks instead of African Americans as it’s more natural for me…I do not mean to offend anyone but it is the term I grew up with therefore I am going to use it.>  

Because there are so few Blacks in the area, and this is a high level candidate we were courting, a person on the recruiting team suggested we find someone to have dinner with this candidate. Of course this “someone” should represent the interests of this person, so — off I ran to find an employee who was preferably technical, Black, a great representative of Microsoft and knowledgeable about the area. Oh, and did I mention I needed to do this on short notice? That’s a story for another day…

In my time at Microsoft I have learned the value of collaboration and networking, so I reached out to my “Black professional” network — Technical first and then non-technical folks. When none of those panned out, I reached out to Black friends/colleagues and asked for them to spread the word and someone responded with a name; I hit the jackpot with this one but didn’t know it at the time…

I emailed this person and wrote in the subject line “Favor to ask…”. I spelled out what I was looking for and he let me know he was not able to take the candidate to dinner due to a BBQ he was hosting. In the same email though he stated the candidate is welcome to come to the BBQ…I thought on this statement for a bit. I thought about professionalism, representing Microsoft and how casual BBQs can be. I also considered the opportunity for this candidate to meet other professional, technical Blacks who work at Microsoft in a social setting. After a conversation with the recruiter and the candidate, we collectively decided to go for it.

Friday rolls around and the interviews go off without a hitch. The candidate is having great conversations with the team and recruiting. Friday night comes and the candidate heads to the BBQ.

Was the event a disaster or a success? You need to check back next week to find out…

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1 comments
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