Inclusion, News and politics, Organizations

Rane Stempson: Helping Central Oregon Startups and More Create Diverse, Inclusive Workplaces

Thank you Kelly Kearsley, reposted from Startupbend Community visit their site.

 

So Teri approached me and asked if I would help develop a equity, diversity and leadership workshop series targeted at startups and small businesses that would offer practical knowledge on these topics at an affordable price? As the former principal research director for Microsoft, I focused on diversity and specifically bring more underrepresented groups into computing, so this was in my wheelhouse. I opened the Ranemaker Institute and began developing the TAO workshop series, researching, and working with the City of Bend and the Bend Chamber on how we could better support our City’s equity needs.

 

As a result, TAO launched the Diversity Leadership Series a few months ago. These workshops, which I lead, are for all industry sectors not just technology and provide hands on learning for our businesses, non-profits and government agencies at an affordable price. The workshops will help employees, managers and senior leaders determine how to deal with unconscious biases, harassment, recruitment, retention and advancement of a diverse workforce, managing across generations and a number of other topics to help businesses better serve their customers and increase employee satisfaction.

 

There’s been other progress as well. The City of Bend passed a unanimous resolution on March 7th to aspire to be the most inclusive city in Oregon and in America. Bend also wants to be proactive in supporting our growing community. Most of our population in Central Oregon works for businesses with less than 100 people. These businesses create goods and services that must meet the needs of a diverse population that either visits the region or is distributed globally. I launched the Inclusive Innovation Initiative to provide a committee to tackle difficult equity and inclusion issues facing our city, the workshop series and free advising.

 

I’ve also been offering advising hours to start-ups and small businesses via the SBDC at COCC. I’ll be advising businesses on issues such as diversity, inclusion and equity. I’ll also provide support for under-represented groups considering starting a new business. You can schedule a meeting today. 

When we suggest we need to expand organizational diversity it doesn’t mean ‘affirmative action’ per se. Instead it often means looking at the broader definition. Asking ourselves, do we have members on our team that are adding value because of their different race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, abilities, age, skill set, knowledge, culture, education, and training? Do these members push us to think, approach problems, and create solutions in different ways.

 

Bend is growing at an exceptionally fast rate, and our region’s diversity is growing. Inclusion helps us recognize that everyone’s voice and opinion matter and there are different strategies we should take to ensure each voice has the same level of importance. In speaking with organizations, I explain that, “Most people have good intentions and with a little education, such as utilizing strategies to better connect, we can work more effectively with each other and remove a lot of misunderstandings.

Especially in the technology community, we have a lot of equity and inclusion issues. And while we are driving so hard to innovate before the next person, we forget the time we need to invest in our innovative teams to ensure they are performing at their best.” We understand the importance of technical training but often forget the soft skills is what is necessary to really drive innovative teams and successful companies utilizing the full potential of all their employees.

Check out the next course in the diversity series workshop. You can also catch me at the next City Club forum on June 21. I’ll be moderating a panel on Gender Partnerships in the Workplace: Where We Have Been, Where We Can Be. You can schedule a meeting today. for free small business advising in diversity.

Inclusion, News and politics

Time to Require Corporations to be Socially Responsible

Reposted from LinkedIn Article

It is time we make our corporations be more accountable to ethical and social responsibilities. Expectations for reduced expenses, increased profits and higher bonuses to executives and greater returns for stockholders can’t be derived at the detriment of employees and increased burden to taxpayers. I just finished reading Elizabeth Warren’s book, “This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class ,” and it left me feeling an urgent need to do something!

I grew up as a second generation Asian American with a father on social security at an early retirement from civil engineering and military service. This required my stay at home mother to go to work and be a minimum wage housekeeper since she could not read and write English. To my surprise today, with this meager income of less than twenty-five thousand dollars a year, my family was able to support two children, a home mortgage and pay all our bills in a small bedroom community of Portland, Oregon called Vancouver, WA. We were by no means rich but we weren’t super poor either. I enjoyed playing sports, being on student government, singing in choir, having lots of friends in different classes, genders and ethnicities, having great healthcare at Kaiser Permanente and no stigma of being a poor person of color. We were a lower middle-class family. Today, we would be in poverty. We would not own a home but rent, visiting the food bank, struggle with healthcare, be challenged keeping up with bills and probably could only pay for clothing at Goodwill. It is a travesty that someone working a full-time minimum wage job with a spouse that served our country can’t afford to live and make ends meet. We must fix this as Americans!

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I want to quote a few paragraphs’ from Mrs. Warren’s book, …

“Gina says she feels lucky to have a job, but she is pretty blunt about what it is like to work at Walmart: she hates it. She’s worked at her local Walmart for nine years, spending long hours on her feet waiting on customers and wrestling with heavy merchandise around the store. But that is not the part that galls her.

Last year, management told the employees they would get a significant raise. While driving to work or sorting laundry, Gina thought about how she could spend that extra money. Do repairs around the house. Or set aside a few dollars in case an emergency. Or help her sons, because “that’s what a mom does.”… 

Then the day arrives when she received the letter informing her of the raise: 21 cents an hour. For a grand total of $1.68 a day, $8.40 a week.

Gina described holding the letter and looking at it and feeling like it was “a spit in your face.” As she talked about the minuscule raise, her voice filled with anger. Anger, tinged with fear. Walmart could dump all over her, but she would have to take it. She still needed this job. They could treat her like dirt, and she would still have to show up. And that is exactly what they did.

In 2015, Walmart made $14.69 billion in profits and Walmart’s investors pocketed $10.4 billion from dividends and shareholder repurchases—and Gina got 21 cents an hour more. This isn’t a story of shared sacrifice. It’s not a story about a company that is struggling to keep the doors open in tough times. This isn’t a small business that can’t afford generous raises. Just the opposite: this is a fabulously wealthy company making big bucks off the Ginas of the world. 

There are seven members of the Walton family, Walmart’s major shareholders, on the Forbes list of the country’s four hundred richest people, and together these seven Walton’s have as much wealth as about 130 million Americans… Walmart routinely squeezes its workers, not because it has to, but because it can…

Walmart is the largest employer in the country. More than a million and a half Americans are working to make this corporation among the most profitable in the world. Meanwhile, Gina points out that at her store, “almost all the young people are on food stamps.” And its not just her store. Across the country, Walmart pays such low wages that many of its employees rely on food stamps, rent assistance, Medicaid, and a mix of other government benefits, just to stay out of poverty. 

The next time you drive into a Walmart parking lot, pause a second to note Walmart—like the more than five thousand other Walmarts in the country—costs taxpayers about $1 million in direct subsidies to the employees who don’t earn enough money to pay for an apartment, buy food, or get even the most basic health care for their children. In total, Walmart benefits from more than $7 billion in subsidies each year from taxpayers like you. Those “low, low prices” are made possible by low, low wages—and the taxes you pay to keep those workers alive on their low, low pay…

Walmart isn’t alone. Every year, employers like retailers and fast food outlets pay wages that are so low that the rest of America ponies up a collective $153 billion to subsidize their workers. Anyone want to guess what we could do with that mountain of money? We could pay public college tuition- free and pay for preschool for every child- and still have billions left over. We could almost double the amount we spend on veteran’s services, such as disability, long-term care, and end homelessness. We could double all federal research and development—everything: medical, scientific, engineering, climate science, behavioral heath, chemistry, brain mapping, dug addiction, even defense research. Or we could double federal spending on transportation and water infrastructure…

Gina describes life at Walmart is a constant fight to get enough hours to support her family. Walmart deliberately over hires, which then puts workers in competition for shifts. Even though she has worked at her Walmart for nearly a decade, she doesn’t get her work schedule far enough in advance to plan a trip to the dentist. And she doesn’t know how many hours she will get each week and if she will have enough money to cover the basics…She talks about a friend who is trying to support herself and little boy on a Walmart paycheck. She needs more hours. She was trying to do better, so she was taking classes at the community college at night. Nicole was available every day and five evenings every week, but she needed Tuesday and Thursday nights off, so she could go to class. They wouldn’t give it to her. They use the schedule as punishment… Gina and her friend feels like their positions at the company are always unsteady…”

I hope you are outraged and furious! I understand that there are many people in our great Nation who cannot afford to stop shopping at Walmart, but we can make them hurt. We can show them that they cannot have these practices and still have a loyal customer base. We must force them to act ethically, morally and socially responsible as an American company. The only way they will do this is if their bottom line is affected. MY CALL TO ACTION IS: Tell all your friends, family and acquaintances that the last Friday of the month we all boycott Walmart. That every last Friday of the month, Walmart will be open and not have one customer or sale in the estimated over 5000 stores. This will incur millions of dollars of lost revenues for Walmart and require them to proactively do something! If we hold all minimum wage corporations accountable in the same way, we can begin to see a difference for a large portion of our American middle-class population. No American who is working hard, doing all the right things should live in poverty in this day and age. PLEASE STAND WITH ME IN OUTRAGE, share this story with your friends and please BOYCOTT Walmart the last FRIDAY of every month! Thank you, Elizabeth Warren for getting this information out!

Girls and Technology, Inclusion

Scholarships to Increase Gender Diversity in Computer Science

Women are woefully under-represented in computing fields. I know; you’ve heard me say this before, but the statistics bear repeating: In 2014, women made up less than 20 percent of those graduating with computer and information science degrees, despite the fact that women overall accounted for more than half of all baccalaureate graduates.

This dearth of women pursuing computing degrees is doubly unfortunate. First, it deprives the economy of much-needed talent: the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that, at present rates, only 39 percent of the estimated 1.2 million computing-related jobs in 2022 will be filled by computing graduates. Second, women bring a unique perspective to male-dominated computing fields, providing the team diversity that executives value.

Microsoft Research is committed to increasing women’s presence in computing, which is why we established the Graduate Women’s Scholarship. These scholarships offer vital support to female computing students during their second year of graduate studies: a US$15,000 stipend plus a US$2,000 travel and conference allowance—resources to help the recipients gain visibility in their departments, acquire mentorship, and cover the ever-growing cost of graduate programs.

Here are the winners of the 2015 Microsoft Research Graduate Women’s Scholarship:

  • Alexandra Schofield, Cornell University
  • Hannah Gommerstadt, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Jane E, Stanford University
  • Jiaqi Mu, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Kaitlyn Becker, Harvard University
  • Kellie Ottoboni, University of California, Berkeley
  • Lisa Gai, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Olga Zamaraeva, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Sulekha Kulkarni, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Wenjie Xiong, Yale University

In addition to the Graduate Women’s Scholarships, Microsoft Research is proud to support the NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund, which provides U.S. academic institutions with funds (up to US$15,000 per project) to develop and implement initiatives for recruiting and retaining women in computer science and information technology fields of study. Learn more about the Seed Fund and the recently announced 2015 award recipients.

Congratulations to all the winning programs and students. We look forward to great things from 2015’s women in computing.

Rane Johnson-Stempson, Principal Research Director, Microsoft Research

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Girls and Technology, Organizations

Diversifying Computer Science

Smart managers have long recognized the importance of diversity in the workplace. They know from experience what empirical research has shown: diverse teams outperform those made up of individual “all stars,” particularly when it comes to innovation.

The value of diversity is why Microsoft Research is pleased to join with other groups across the company to support the 2015 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing (the Tapia Conference), the Association of Computing Machinery’s premier diversity event. The Tapia Conference brings together undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, researchers, and computing professionals of all backgrounds and ethnicities.

This year’s theme, “Diversity at Scale,” celebrates efforts that move beyond conversation and study into full implementation of diversity in all aspects of computing. Befitting our commitment to this goal, Microsoft attendees are a culturally and professionally diverse group of women and men representing different ethnicities, nationalities, and computing careers, including researchers, engineers, interns, and business executives.

Among the Microsoft leaders playing prominent roles in the conference are Microsoft Vice President Jacky Wright, who will deliver a keynote address on the power of data, and Jennifer Chayes, director of our New England and New York research labs, who will be participating in a fireside chat on big data. In addition, a number of Microsoft employees—including Jessica Lingel, Bhavini Soneji, and Fernando Diaz—will join me in supporting the career mentoring workshops, plenary sessions, poster presentations, and career fair.

Participants of the 2014 Microsoft Research Data Science Summer School
Participants of the 2014 Microsoft Research Data Science Summer School

Personally, I’m most excited about the poster session presentations from the diverse undergraduate students who attended the 2014 Microsoft Research Data Science Summer School (DS3). Designed to encourage participation from New York City area college students who are women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities, DS3 is a hands-on, eight-week introduction to data science. DS3 includes coursework in data science, taught by leading scientists from Microsoft Research’s lab in New York. The students study tools and techniques for acquiring, cleaning, and utilizing real-world data for research purposes, and are introduced to concepts in applied statistics and machine learning. DS3 students also participate group research projects, two of which will be represented at the poster session:

  • An Empirical Analysis of Stop-and-Frisk in New York City looks at the social cost of the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk program and develops a simple predictive model to aid officers in making better decisions about whom to stop and under what circumstances.
  • Self-Balancing Bikes explores a simple re-routing scheme to improve the availability of bikes while simultaneously reducing operating costs in the United States’ largest bike-sharing program.

If you are a college student from the New York area, you are welcome to apply for the 2015 Summer School. We will be accepting applications soon, online.

On the last day of the conference, I’ll join academic and industry leaders for a one-day summit where we will map out strategies for graduating more students who are ethnic minorities, women, and people with disabilities in the field of computing. We will also discuss methods for increasing their rate of advancement once they have entered the workplace. I’m looking forward to brainstorming some great initiatives for attaining diversity at scale!

Rane Johnson-Stempson, Principal Research Director, Microsoft Research

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Girls and Technology, Inclusion

Supporting UK’s Rising Stars in Computing

The United Kingdom has faced some tough economic times in the past 10 years, but the technology industry has remained strong throughout. The tech sector has played a key role in helping the economy bounce back from the recessions of 2008–2009 and 2011–2012. Nationwide, IT industry employment grew 5.5 percent between 2009 and 2012 and rose 20 percent in London (more than three times faster than the sector average) since the recession. Today, more than 1.3 million people work in the UK technology sector, and the industry is expected to grow more quickly in London than in the Silicon Valley in the next decade.

Participants of the workshop, Tips and Tools for Scientific Research Success, at the Microsoft Research Cambridge lab
Participants of the workshop, Tips and Tools for Scientific Research Success, at the Microsoft Research Cambridge lab

The tech industry has traditionally been a male-dominated field. The huge growth in the field would seem to be a natural incentive for young women to join their peers in the computer science classroom—especially since female students now account for 55 percent of the enrollments in higher education in the UK (HESA 2013). Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Fewer than 3 percent of the UK’s 403,000 higher education graduates in 2013 received computer science degrees. Women accounted for a meager 17 percent of that number (HESA 2013).

In an effort to encourage more women to stay in computer-related PhD programs and understand the opportunities in this field, Microsoft Research offered a workshop on Tips and Tools for Scientific Research Success at its Cambridge lab, June 16–18, 2014.

Following the example of successful programs created by CRA-W Graduate Cohort and Future Science Leaders at Oxford University and the British Royal Society, the course aimed to educate attendees about Microsoft research tools, equip them with advice from experienced researchers about the opportunities of being an early-career researcher, and inspire them with examples from Microsoft Research that show the potential of computer science to change the world.

The event started with a day devoted to cloud computing and its potential for research. Participants could get hands-on experience with Microsoft Azure and create WordPress blogs and data-driven websites in no time. They experienced the power of Microsoft Azure for big data processing, sharing research data, deploying cloud services, and using Excel with Power BI to slice, dice, and visualize data. They learned how the Microsoft Azure for Research program could help researchers with their work, even if they decide to start their own business.

Rane Johnson-Stempson, Kenji Takeda, and Clare Morgan of Microsoft Research greeted participants at the Microsoft Azure for Research training that kicked off the workshop.
Rane Johnson-Stempson, Kenji Takeda, and Clare Morgan of Microsoft Research greeted participants at the Microsoft Azure for Research training that kicked off the workshop.

Attendees gained a better understanding of the tools Microsoft Research provides to help researchers (including Sand Dance, GeoS, CodaLab, ChronoZoom, and WorldWide Telescope) and of the opportunities available in working in an industry research lab. For example, Principal Researcher Don Syme (Microsoft Research Cambridge) told the story of how F#, the cutting-edge functional programming language, jumped from being a project in the lab to part of Microsoft’s mainstream language portfolio.

To help assure their ongoing success, workshop participants have been paired up with Microsoft Researchers in Cambridge, who will serve as informal coaches to provide guidance and advice in their first and second years of PhD study.

“A hands-on workshop to experience firsthand the mighty power of Microsoft Azure; an exciting lineup of talks discussing cutting-edge research; an inspiring induction to being skilful researchers; most importantly, an ever so valuable one-to-one interaction session with a mentor from Microsoft Research Cambridge. A truly interesting and thoroughly engaging event—a genuine inspiration to becoming champion researchers in Industry Research Labs.”
—Kavin Narasimhan, PhD student at Queen Mary, University at London

We look forward to helping these talented researchers grow throughout their careers. We’ll be running another workshop in the fall, so please let us know if you’re interested by emailing us at MSRWIC@microsoft.com.

Rane Johnson-Stempson, Principal Research Director, Education and Scholarly Communication, Microsoft Research
Kenji Takeda, Solutions Architect and Technical Manager, Microsoft Research

Simon Mercer, Director of Health and Wellbeing, Microsoft Research

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