Tracey Martin, EMEA Partner Business Ops Manager, Microsoft

19th April 2021

This week Tracey Martin, EMEA Partner Business Operations Manager, Microsoft and WMB Diversity Ambassador, shows us how ‘Gender balance is ultimately good for the economy and our society’.

Please describe your role at Microsoft.

I work within our Business Operations Organisation leading a global team who are accountable for the management & digital transformation of our Partner Lifecycle Management Processes.  I also lead the Gender Pillar for Microsoft Ireland where the focus is on promoting and developing opportunities for employees to flourish in a diverse and inclusive environment.

Can you put into context, the size and scope of Microsoft for our readers?

Microsoft Ireland currently employs more than 2,500 people representing over 75 different nationalities operating out of the company’s campus in Leopardstown, Dublin and our Data Centre in Dublin. Ensuring a sense of inclusion and belonging is critical for our diverse workforce.

As a WMB Magazine Diversity Ambassador, how important is it to have role models?

Role models within our society and our organisations are hugely important in developing a culture of diversity and inclusion.

We rely on role models to lead with allyship, which is about understanding behaviours such as unconscious bias and covering.

Take covering as an example, when an individual downplays a known stigmatised identity to blend into the mainstream, this is non-inclusive and greatly limits a person’s ability to bring their authentic self to work.  Research amongst Fortune 500 companies shows that 66% of women and 61% of the overall population sample reported covering.  There is huge opportunity for role models to identify, recognise and support a dialogue around covering and other inclusion drivers and to be instrumental in effecting the necessary conditions for change.

Why is diversity and inclusion important in your business?

At Microsoft, our Diversity & Inclusion mission is ‘’Come as you are, do what you love, be the best you can be’’.

When we have diverse teams, we do our best work and deliver the best for our customers and Microsoft. That means creating an environment where difference is expected, valued, and optimised.  When you have a diverse and inclusive team, innovation and creativity are stimulated and our personal experiences at work are improved.

What kind of initiatives at your organisation help attract and/or retain employees?

At Microsoft we have a variety of programs and initiatives which focus on attracting and retaining great talent.  The Microsoft Sales Academy, which launched in February, is one such example.  The programme recruits people from a variety of backgrounds and with little or no digital skills and enables them to establish a career in digital sales.  The Sales Academy enables us to build and nurture a diverse pipeline of talent which ensures a team that reflects the diversity of the customers that we serve.

In order to thrive in a rapidly evolving workplace, the ability to be flexible is important. What other attributes are necessary for companies and their employees to survive and succeed?

The impact of the pandemic has led to a fundamental change in the way we work. In some cases, virtual working has accelerated progress in building inclusive teams and organisations.

As we have figured out how to integrate work and home life, we have given ourselves permission to share our everyday reality with work colleagues, in doing so we are bringing our authentic selves to the table.

It will be important to maintain that level of authenticity in the future.

However, reports undoubtedly show that the Pandemic has had a regressive effect on gender equality in the workplace – the burden of unpaid family care is being disproportionately carried by women, there is a rise in unemployment and domestic violence.  As we start to recover from the pandemic and reimagine what an inclusive society looks like, we must consider how to course correct on gender balance.

Companies who place a value on inclusion and embrace the flexibility to make work life integration a positive experience for employees will have the advantage of a more diverse and accessible workforce which includes providing more opportunities for women to return to the workplace.

Given the shortage of women in STEM, what more can be done to increase the pipeline of female talent?

Role modelling and engaging young people in STEM at an early age are essential to shift the perception of the role that technology can play in their future career choices. In 2018, Microsoft Ireland invested €5million in the development of a dedicated STEM innovation and education experience called DreamSpace. Research undertaken by NUI Maynooth on the impact of DreamSpace shows that it has been a catalyst for change in perception. In fact, it found that young girls were particularly more open to considering careers in STEM having engaged with DreamSpace.

Has the last year been one big challenge or are there some ‘silver linings?

This last year has been challenging but there have been many silver linings.

It has afforded us the opportunity to slow down and live in the present, to reflect on what really matters to us as individuals and allow us time to reassess what we truly value.

With the evolution of hybrid working, what advice would you give to employees when it comes to getting noticed?

Three things stand out for me:

•Mind Your Network – Be intentional about making virtual connections with colleagues, the water cooler is now virtual.

•Include yourself & those around you – Find your allies, share your thoughts, collaborative tools mean we can be more creative about finding our voice, pick what works for you.

•Gratitude – Don’t forget to acknowledge those around you.

Can you share one important lesson/observation/mantra that will inspire others?

Gender balance is ultimately good for the economy and our society.