Microsoft calling on partners to join gender equality initiative

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Microsoft calling on partners to join gender equality initiative
Rachel Bondi (Microsoft)

Microsoft Australia has launched a gender equality initiative with organisation Male Champions of Change (MCC) together with its biggest partners.

The initiative, called Male Champions of Change Microsoft Partner Group, includes Data#3, Datacom, Dicker Data, Empired, Ingram Micro, Insight, Interactive, Rackspace, Synnex, Thomas Duryea Logicalis and Microsoft.

MCC works with Australia’s top leaders in business, government, academia and the military to help redefine mens’ role in taking action on gender inequality. Including Microsoft Partner Group, the MCC is a coalition of 15 groups, with some 230 leaders involved.

Microsoft channel chief Rachel Bondi told CRN that the group is seeking more Microsoft channel partners to take part.

“I want our Australian partners and everyone else to know the impact of the power of a diverse workplace, and I want to make sure that we have an industry that attracts and retains more women than any other sector I and I feel like we can do more than what we're doing today,” she said.

“I also want people to know that Microsoft is in this, along with everybody else, so I would love to attract more people and channel partners to this initiative.”

“Microsoft has 10,000 partners in Australia and they employ 300,000 people, so if we can make at least one point of difference every year in terms of diversity we will have a pretty massive impact over time,” Bondi added.

“I think that's why we landed with Male Champions of Change — their vision really sat with us because they really believe in men standing beside women and helping everybody address diversity and inclusion and supporting each other, and that they’ve got a proven methodology of bringing people and organisations together.”

Bondi added that the current group has fast-tracked three priority action areas – building flexible workplaces, developing new approaches to attracting and retaining women in the sector, and leveraging equality to encourage successful transformation.

“As more of our partners come on board, the conversation regarding the importance of tech sector diversity and inclusion will be amplified; new programs to encourage women into the sector will emerge; capability will improve and corporate cultures will become more inclusive,” she said.

“Together we can strive for gender equality across our industry and serve as a diversity beacon for other sectors of the economy.”

In Microsoft’s announcement released today, the vendor cited an Australian Computer Society-commissioned research that found women make up 29 percent of Australia’s technology workforce, saying it is well shy of equality. The same study also found there was an 18 percent gender pay gap in technology roles.

In a separate study commissioned by Science & Technology Australia and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit women hardest in terms of job losses compared to men, and is also set to disproportionately hinder women’s STEM careers and exacerbate female job insecurity.

Dicker Data CEO Vlad Mitnovetski said, “The entire working landscape has fundamentally changed because of COVID-19 – but the challenges associated with ensuring gender diversity are if anything magnified.”

“As we emerge from this pandemic, there is a real opportunity to reset our workplaces, to
build in greater flexibility, create new career pathways and increase opportunities for women. We have established working groups to look at these priority areas and find ways to enact important and necessary change,” he added.

Bondi said she considered doing the initiative independently at first but thought there would be more power in bringing a group of people together.

“Over the past year I’ve been talking to many of these CEOs from the ten partners that we've enlisted and they're also willing to get involved and participate. We thought if we could bring 11 organizations together under the format of Male Champions of Change, we believe that we could have a tremendous impact on the Australian [IT] industry.”

Microsoft Australia managing director Steven Worrall will sponsor MCC Microsoft Partners Group.

“I'm proud that so many of our partners are invested in creating positive change in gender equality in their organisations and within the broader ICT ecosystem,” Worrall said in the announcement.

“MCC provides a platform to drive disruptive action across the whole of the tech sector and create better workplaces for everyone.”

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