Transforming Identity into Action | Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Hiring Process

In August, our New Tech DEI Meetup was led by Dr. Nile Wilson, Data & Applied Scientist at Microsoft. Her experiences as a Black and Asian woman in 2020 catalyzed the founding of a grassroots D&I initiative focused on improving representation during the hiring process. 

Read on to learn how Dr. Wilson turned thoughts into action to make an impact on diversity, equality and inclusion programs at Microsoft. 

Recognizing a need for action

Dr. Wilson joined Microsoft in 2019, just months before COVID changed everything. 2020 was filled with uncertainty, anti-Asian hate crimes were on the rise and the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum during the spring and summer. As a biracial woman, it brought up overwhelming feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, fear and then the question of how to process these feelings while maintaining productivity and making an impact in the workplace. 

She participated in Microsoft’s diversity and inclusion talks, but Dr. Wilson wondered how to turn these discussions into action. Employees were finding value in the conversations and it was creating an energy to do more within the organization. 

Creating a Grassroots Movement  

Project Rosa was founded out of the passion ignited during D&I discussions. It was founded with a goal of improving the experience of black employees within the Computer Software Engineering division of Microsoft, then applying those practices to scale across the organization. Project Rosa was built upon several pillars, but Dr. Wilson focused on improving employee representation in the hiring process and increasing exposure of employees to late stage candidates.

Incorporating DEI Components into the Hiring Process 

With the understanding that diversity is multidimensional, Project Rosa ensures that candidates are able to speak to more employees of similar backgrounds to them and begins to cultivate a sense of community. They take careful consideration to ensure all parties know that conversations are safe and do not impact the hiring process and includes employees of all levels and backgrounds. 

Four considerations to starting a DEI hiring process:

  • Getting started: Understand what goes into a program, be familiar with internal process and make connections within the organization 
  • Understand limitations: be aware of what may already exist, understand privacy limitation (especially in the hiring process), and revise programs as needed
  • Work with stakeholders across the organization: have clear meeting agendas, be flexible and prioritize
  • Start small and scale: take learnings and create recommendations that can be applied across the organization 

Watch the full discussion. 

Each month we host a virtual meetup discussing important topics across diversity, equality and inclusion in tech. Please join us for our next session. 

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