Inclusion Drives Innovation in the Workplace


By Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer


NDEAM 2017 Poster

The 2017 NDEAM poster including Microsoft’s own John Winfrey (pictured left) a senior technical account manager.

October marks the 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) with the theme, "Inclusion Drives Innovation". This year it’s not just a theme – it’s a truth we see every day at our company and in organizations around the world. A diverse and talented workforce brings new perspectives that help advance our ability to delight all our customers. While we are honoring this month in a variety of ways, I want to share a new perspective on one of our hiring programs, through a new video, and highlight an event that will let you join us on this inclusive hiring journey.

Building Inclusive Behaviors into Inclusive Hiring

When we are more inclusive, our company, our products, and our teams are quite simply better. This starts with intentionally opening doors to employment for people with disabilities. Our Autism Hiring Program, launched two years ago, uses a non-traditional interview process that allows candidates to demonstrate their abilities in a comfortable and supportive environment. It includes a week-long academy in Redmond, full of fun team-building exercises, specific training and hours spent practicing interview techniques. Our goal is to provide everything needed to ensure each candidate to ready to show their talent.

If offered a full-time role, the new employee is supported with coaches, mentors, buddies, and other tools and resources to assist and empower them, like sound reducing headphones. We also work with the employee’s team and manager to ensure their environment is set up for success. We teach managers the importance of setting clear expectations, giving quick, constructive and regular feedback and the value of frequent communication.  We hear that the advice has made them a better manager, not just for their employee with autism, but for the whole team. After all, who doesn’t like getting regular feedback and an army of coaches and mentors to support!

I could talk about this program all day, but instead, take three minutes and watch this new video featuring three recent hires, Cody Takayoshi, Joey Chemis and M.J. Gardner. You can access the audio described version of this video here.

Join Us

This month, we will be celebrating NDEAM and sharing more of these stories. Some of the events we’ll be at include:

Highlight: Virtual Career Fair

The Inclusive Hiring Virtual Career Fair is a dedicated forum for candidates with disabilities on October 19, from 1:00-3:00 pm PT. Candidates can join online and connect with over a dozen Fortune 500 companies, including JP Morgan Chase, Nordstrom, Starbucks and others, that are looking to hire people with disabilities, all from the comfort of their own home. All of these companies can use your great talent, so if you want to join the team at Microsoft or any of the other amazing companies participating, please register here and join us!

Significant work lies ahead on our journey of empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. We cannot do it alone and are thrilled that more companies are seeing the value of inclusive hiring practices. And we're looking forward to working with all of you!


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