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Microsoft empowers everyone; shows up at LI PRIDE

Today was a beautiful day, and I decided to head to Long Island’s yearly Pride Parade and PrideFest in Huntington, New York. Among the booths of supporters and local businesses were a collection of Microsoft employees from the local Microsoft Store in Huntington Station.

Microsoft has always been one of the forefront leaders of workplace equality for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transgender) employees. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) scores Microsoft a 100 out of 100, for implementing anti-discrimination protection and other benefits to its team members. In addition, the Redmond Company is a strong supporter of the HRC and is continuously labeled as a “Platinum Partner”.

Microsoft has an internal group for LGBT employees known as GLEAM (Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft); the organization started as a private mailing list during the 1980s. The company eventually added sexual orientation to the company’s anti-discrimination policy in 1989. In addition, GLEAM was able to influence Microsoft to add gender identity and expression to the policy in 2005 and 2006.

The group of employees at Long Island’s PrideFest were around to show support for the local gay community and (of course) to advertise the local Microsoft Store; 10% coupons were being given out along with Microsoft luggage tags. The group was handing out flyers with the company’s equality rights slogan, “empower everyone”.

“Microsoft is committed to diversity and inclusion in everything we do. Diversity enriches our performance and products, the communities where we live and work, and the culture and lives of us all. Come see what’s new at Microsoft.”

As Windows Phone Central’s Microsoft News Editor and as a huge Microsoft fan, it warmed my heart to see the company I love supporting human rights and equality for all.

Have you had a chance to stop by your local Microsoft Store yet?

Source: HRC Equality Index, GLEAM

  • Nice. Good Guy Microsoft
  • I really hope they don't force their employees to participate in these events as it may violate their personal religious and political beliefs. If you want to volunteer for an event like this okay, but it is wrong to make everyone participate in politically/religiously divisive events.
    Also giving out 10% discounts to individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or political affiliation strikes me as a troubling precedent.
  • There's always one.
  • One what? Person who believes politics shouldn't be forced on employees? If they said every one of their employees has to participate in a local NRA event and they gave out 10% discounts to gun rights advocates I would say it was equally wrong. Corporations should stay out of politics. The recent Chick-fil-A incident comes to mind as a perfect example.
  • I agree with you 100% coolman8! Edit: or Cool8man... >_>
  • Do you really think MS forced those individuals to go? That handful of employees? And have you ever been to a public event and received a coupon to buy a product? Sporting events give it coupons. Do you think every gay person now gets 10% off? I think you're over exaggerating just a tad.
  • As far as I know most sporting events are apolitical. No I don't think every gay person gets a discount, but gay/transgender people are more likely to get discounts than straight in this instance. And gay rights advocates are more likely to get a discount than those who are not gay rights advocates. I'm sorry, but that's it's own form of discrimination.
  • Straight people absolutely attend gay pride events - Pride is a celebration of the GBLT community and its Allies!
    Also, if you really want a discount coupon, there's nothing stopping you from showing up at an event where they're given out and receiving one.
  • Oh no, gays and gay supporters possibly getting preferential treatment!? Like a rich man complaining he's got too much money, but also want a share of the welfare.
  • I don't think you know what discrimination is. This is an event, and Microsoft are giving away (essentially marketing) to the people at the event. It's not discrimination to give away coupons at Comic Con.
    Discrimination would be deliberately restricting a group from receiving a privilege based solely on arbitrary standards (such as preventing certain people from having the same legal/civil rights based on their sexuality or race). Handing out vouchers at an event mostly attended by gay people is not in any way, shape or form discriminating against non-gays.
    You disgust me.
  • Theres a difference between regular politics and equal rights.
  • Being gay is not political. Just like being Asian is not political. Would you have the same bigoted comments if MS participated in a Chinese New Years parade? This is a pathetic attempt to disguise homophobic attitudes as benign concerns for politics. Get a life and own up to your own bigotry please.
  • I do understand your viewpoint. To answer your questions, yes - the employees volunteered.
  • That's good to hear, but it still concerns me that if Microsoft does these sponsorships frequently and you don't volunteer because of personal beliefs does that make you appear to not be a team player/motivated employee. Does someone who supports the companies politics indirectly get favored because of things like this?
    I also worry it creates a hostile work environment when an employee needs to explain to their boss/coworkers that they can't help out because the event interferes with an indivduals religious/political affiliation. I just don't like the mixing of politics and work.
    Basically you end up indirectly discriminating against people because of their religious/poltical leanings instead of their sexual orientation.  You're just replacing one form of discrimination with another.
  • Thanks for your comment. I respect that.
  • So you think that bigotry, discrimination and hatred, when couched as a political or religious belief, is acceptable in a modern intelligent society? Sad, sad, sad. What about stoning my adulterous wife? Don't get mad... my religion says that's okay. Bull! Equal rights for ALL people is the ethical belief, regardless of what some damn book or guys in a fancy building tell you. Glad to see Microsoft understands this.
  • My religion requires a strict moral code that disallows any sexual behavior outside of a (one man, one woman) marriage. That same religion commands be to love my neighbor (GLBT neighbors).
    My politics demand that all men (humans) are born free.
    So as I do not agree with what they do with there freedom I do celebrate their freedom.
    As you may not agree with my religious beliefs please do not denounce it as Bull and make me feel unwelcome to the site.
  • You are always welcome here, Jeff! We are not denouncing anyone.
  • Respectfully Michael,
    Genegar refers to my faith as "Bull" I am at least as defined by my faith as anyone here is their sexual identification. I have been a regular visitor to this site for three years. It seems that one the few occasions that LGBT issues are raised their are multiple jabs taken at people of orthodox Judeo-Christian faith. The comments are occasionally crude and often defamatory. Because someone does not celebrate a lifestyle they a bigoted?
    I know MS's stance. I know the communities preferences. I don't come here to condemn, insult, malign, or name call. Yet there are comments to this post that would condemn me as a bigot for my faith. Seems a tad unequal.  
  • We have quite a few people cursing at each other in this discussion. And we certainly had a bunch of people cursing out religion – I removed all of these comments. Any comments that were meant simply to insult another person were removed. As far as being called a bigot, the definition can be defined as: “somebody with strong opinions, especially on politics, religion, or ethnicity.” The term is commonly used when debating to criticize an opponent (please note there is a different between criticizing and insulting). If you see someone cursing out religion that I missed, please feel free to bring it up and I will remove it. We want you to feel welcome, if we did miss a hateful comment - we apologize and are trying the best we can to define the line between harsh debate and hate.
  • Either it was edited or you misinterpreted because I don't see Denegar's comment as referring to Judaism or Christianity as bull. He was referring to those who hate and harm others in the name of a religion (e.g. stoning), which you should neither permit, promote, nor participate in such activities if you were truthful with what you said about celebrating freedoms and loving thy neighbor.
  • Calling people bigots while displaying your own bigotry.... priceless.
  • The thing is, at every gay pride parade, there is an expectation of protesters. The gay community goes to great length to allow these protesters safe space to voice their views. Many are given police protection. The gay community goes out of its way to educate attendees to not bother or engage the protesters and actively discourages any and all violence. Unfortunately this effort is not reciprocated. When has a church ever give safe space for anti-religious fundamentalist protesters. Unheard of.
  • Nothing to be concerned about, there is no internal pressure to volunteer for anything inside MS. It is generally viewed as a positive personality trait however, and you are likely to be more respected among your peers, but that's humans in general, not a MS thing. Human rights are not a political issue, so I'm not certain where your concern comes in. I worked with plenty of right and left wingers there, politics really had nothing to do with their promotional path unless they were using them to make business decisions.
  • I have zero respect for your bigotry.
  • If your religion tells you to be a homophobic bigot - well there's your problem.
  • Amazon has a similar policy and it doesn't create a hostile work environment because the hostile/harrassing person(s) will be the one(s) removed, not necessarily the person who doesn't want to do an event because of religious conflicts. In other words, if you can't control yourself and behave civilly, you're likely to be fired regardless if you're gay, straight, Christian, atheist, Asian, etc., etc., etc.
  • Cool8man I agree.
  • Except it's not really political when they don't get to choose, much like you don't get to choose your skin color. In that way, this isn't a political issue, but rather, a civil and human rights issue.
  • If being gay is political, then being Black, Jewish, Muslim, is also political. Being a woman is political. Being a left handed person is political.
  • Gay pride festivals are not limited to LGBT people. They're simply another celebration, like National Teachers' Day festivals haha. If you attend a gathering or event and receive coupons from merchant booths... It's due to the event providing a great marketing opportunity. I can't see anything wrong with a company setting up a booth at a Pride and passing out coupons lol. I catch them all the time at, say heritage events and an anime conference I once stumbled upon. *shrug*
  • Teachers don't deserve a day or a discount on any product. They get the summers off and a ton of time for holidays.
  • To be clear, anyone who showed up at these events would get a discount. There was no 'gay test' in order to receive them. They hold dozens, if not hundreds of events per year with discounts and promotions. This is just one of them. All of them favor one group or another in some way simply because given groups are biased to attend certain events. That said, I'm straight and a strong believer in the constitution of this nation. As a result I am a firm believer in civil rights for all, regardless of race, gender, age, or sexual orientation. Its the only truly conservative position one can hold if a person believes in the ideals of the founding fathers. Personally I think you are attempting to make an issue where none exists. MS's track record on civil rights(not just gay rights) extends to its inception, and its founders came out of the counterculture as much as Apple's and others of the era. They are idealists who just happen to also be very good at technology and business.
  • :rolleyes:
    If they dot like it they can quit....
    And as a private company they can do whatever discount scheme they feel like. Kudos to MFST!
  • I would love it if they did require people to volunteer at pride festivals. While you, and jeffwp, seem to be able to keep your personal beliefs on human rights separate from what your politics. Many other religious individuals cannot. The best way for an individual to come to the realization that LGBT people are entitled to the same human & civil rights as all other citizens of this country, is to have them actually meet, talk, & get to know those of us in the LGBT community as people rather than as a scary "other" group. Required attendance for a pride fest booth is in my opinion no different than required attendance at any other work station.
  • I didn't know that about them. Makes me like them more.
  • Very cool. Hopefully I see a booth at NYC pride in two weeks
  • I was thinking of the same. :) 
  • WP Central NYC Pride meetup?
  • This sounds like an awesome idea
  • I am down! lets make it happen!
  • Whoot!! Let us make it happen.... I'm in. Lets meet by the flatiron building!! Hehehe.... 
  • how should we organize it? Maybe via for the forum?
  • That's like everyone's reaching out for the Pride parade this time and everything is around... Kelly Clarkson's - People like us. Microsoft, & what not CHEERS..!!
  • I'm liking Microsoft even more that they make LGBT ppl feel human at work...
  • I had heard Microsoft was a very good company to work for in terms of diversity. HRC scoring Microsoft 100 out of 100 sounds pretty impressive.
  • As a former employee myself I will say this is not for show, they are VERY serious about this and any and all other forms of discrimination.  It is a fun place to work, and somewhere where you feel your talent says the most about your career potential, not your color, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation.
    Not that there aren't downsides to working there, but one of them will never be who you are.
  • Awesome to hear from the inside! Thank you for sharing! :)
  • It's always a bit weird for me to read or listen "as a former employee [of Microsoft]".
    Became an employee at Microsoft is one of my biggest dreams since I was five years old and I touched a computer running Windows 95 for the first time. In my country most people [who like computers] take a PhD in "Informatics Engineering" (I believe this PhD only exists in my country) since it's the most known here, but I'm one of the few taking a PhD in "Computer Science" since I believe it makes it easier for me to start working in other country and hopefully one day end up in one of those big companies (Microsoft is defectively my favorite). My question is what makes people move away from those companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Youtube, Valve, Mozilla, RockStar, EA, etc.?
    I mean, Apple seems to be a terrible place to work but most of the others look great. What made you leave Microsoft?
  • There are a lot of reasons one might leave Microsoft.  Stress (lots of that in some positions at MS), the desire for less work and more family time, office/company politics, a better offer from another company, starting your own company, entering a different line of work, Microsoft closing your office and asking you to relocate (to Redmond or another location).  I've known people to leave MS for all of those reasons, among others.
    Microsoft IS a pretty great company to work for if you love technology and don't mind hard work, though.
  • Honestly?  An offer I could not refuse working on a product that I really liked.  I worked at Microsoft off and on for more than a decade, and would likely work there again in the future.  But sometimes a person needs change, new challenges, etc.
    Some of the companies you mentioned are real pressure cookers and turnover tends to be very high.  But at MS it tends to just be people wanting to do something different.  I won't claim every experience I had at MS was great, there are good teams and bad teams like any other company.  But it is one place where if the right opportunity arose with the right people I would be hard pressed to turn it down.
    I agree with your degree decisions by the way.  I suggest you apply for internships in the Seattle area(MS first based on your statements).  See what you think of things out here, and often internships lead directly to job offers.
    Agreed.  As David said, they're very serious about all forms of discrimination.  Microsoft requires all employees to view an online diversity training course every year.  That training is updated each year and speaks about Microsoft's success BECAUSE of its diversity.  The training speaks to the pride in having employees from all walks of life and all parts of the world and how much better the company is for it.  Past courses have included scenarios on everything from race or sexual orientation to cultural differences in clothing and food.  As an employee, you are expected to work alongside people of all types.  You don't have to like their differences, but you sure as hell better not let it be an issue.
    For those who don't know, Microsoft's Chief People Officer is a gay woman.  Diversity is celebrated, all the way to the top.
  • Nice. Did not know that and makes me respect MS more.
  • Awesome, Microsoft. Hopefully we'll see a booth promoting the new MS Store in Providence at pRIde!
  • Makes me like MS less.
  • That's very unfortunate
  • Careful. Freedom of speech does not apply to WPCentral. It's very likely that your comment will be censored.
  • Caleb's comment is fine as it states an opinion without hate speech. You are welcome to state your own opinion, but please do so without hating on others. Thanks! :)
  • There was absolutely no hate speech in the comments you censored. There was simply a justified exposition of an opinion. Thing is, it wasn't the same as yours. And so you censored it. Just like a good democratic American. Or maybe not that American. Perhaps you should read your own court decisions and your constitution to understand the difference between hate speech and different opinion.
  • Private fora aren't governments, and aren't subject to the same censorship rules.
  • You're on thin ice, DJ. I suggest you drop it.
  • Agreed, however I've known their stance for quite a while so no big surprise.
  • Wow, as a straight man, your comment embarrasses me.
  • With you
  • As a human being his comment embarrasses me.
  • +1
  • It warms MY heart to see WPCentral, possibly my most looked at site daily, posting about this.
  • And it warms OUR hearts that you visit!
  • "As Windows Phone Central’s Microsoft News Editor and as a huge Microsoft fan, it warmed my heart to see the company I love supporting human rights and equality for all."
    Beautiful words, Michael.
  • Happy Pride!
  • Thank you for sharing this article.
  • Heterosexual Pride Festival - Monday at the Pink Pony.
  • I was so happy to see the Microsoft group as I was walking through the staging area. Unfortunately, when I asked if Microsoft was hiring, I was told probably not but to check online! Where are all these "special rights" that we gay people have according to some?
  • LOL
    How dare they not hire you on the spot.
    Off topic, but I hate when you directly contact a business about employment and they have nothing more to say than "check the website" or "apply online".
  • Its unfortunate that there are some ignorant people here that are bringing down this excellent display of Microsofts diversity. And btw this is not about people flaunting their sexuality, it is about equality. Can't gay people have one day to celebrate who we are? Straight people have the other 364 :)
  • Its gay pride month isn't it?
  • And yes hopmedic human rights are denied to gays in some ways. Apparently you are the type that needs to walk in someone's foot step before you understand
  • Lol at some of these comments above mine. Smh....anyway as a young gay teen, it makes me happy to see a company I support taking the time to support equal rights and acceptance for us all.
  • As a transgender adult I'm hoping that the world will be a better place for you when you get old like me :)
  • Lighten up ppl, they are all human and deserve the same rights and treatment.
  • All the more reason to love Microsoft. I didn't know about their vast support of gay rights, thanks so much for sharing WPC, much appreciated! <3
  • This story made my day. :-)
  • It's discussions like these that make me glad for GBLT Pride, and remind me of why activism is so necessary.
  • After seeing some of the comments posted here (including from myself), I couldn't agree more.
  • You can see it work both ways in these comments. While most people were very reasonable, some people need to learn that tolerance is not a one way street.
  • I think in the case of those who were being intolerant towards religion wasn't so much to attack the religion itself but to the people using their religion to demean others
  • agreed
  • Yay gay right :)
  • Back to WP news please...
  • Well, that escalated quickly.
  • "My partner has insurance because of my job here."
    THIS. This, and many other benefits, of course, is the reason why we (by "we" I mean members of the LGBT community, globally, doesn't matter which country) protest, speak up, organise Prides, march for equality. This. I just love Microsoft. Since always, not just because of this, and I know Microsoft is not the only company in the world who supports LGBT people fully, but it just brings a smile to my face every time I see or hear big multinational companies speaking up for gay rights. I know it sounds trivial for many of you who are straight, but it means a world to gay communites worldwide when "big players" stand by us and promote equality. :)
  • Yes, sir.
  • This is a weird circumstance...
    I have friend who is unmarried with a young child. His female partner is not covered under employers insurance, however, if his partner was male it would cover him.
  • Probably can't get coverage automatically.
    If he and a female partner get married, an option available to them, the partner could get included in his health insurance coverage. If he and a male partner get married, an option not available in most states, the partner could get coverage. In cases where marriage isn't available to him and a male partner, some businesses extend insurance and other benefits IF the same-sex partners act in ways that married couples often do (i.e., have joint bank accounts, co-own a home or co-lease an apartment, file in a domestic partnership registry instead of getting marriage license, etc).
    His employer is trying to level the playing field, despite the state.
  • Tolerance can't be a paradox, e.g. you don't "tolerate" intolerance. If a company or organization promotes tolerance, they inevitably must step on the toes of the intolerant. That's not hypocritical, its reality. If someone is fired from their job for telling a gay coworker that they are a hellbound sinner, that's not intolerant of religion, its disallowing bigotry. To suggest otherwise is the same as if I said "its a crime against convicted kidnappers to hold them against their will." That is stupidity. The myth of Christian persecution is laughable, and has been historically proven inaccurate. So take your "oh poor Christians, they are shoving the idea we have to accept gay people down our throats" elsewhere. You are the same as angry slave owners after the civil war. Also, and not to be overly obvious, but what are you doing on a Microsoft themed site? Are you so unscrupulous that you support a mobile platform from perhaps the most pro-Gay, pro-Abortion, secular company in America? How can you assert any value in a conversation here when clearly your wallet lacks the conviction of your faith?
  • B4 I respond, I really want to question this being on WPCentral. Really stupid.. I guess "Everything Microsoft" was already taken.
    I really hate it when they have stories like these that don't have anything to do with Phone or Win8. I was bored which was why I clicked the story.. mainly trying to see how it applies to tech and I don't think it does.
    I really hate comments like this in how you demonize all Christians as slave owners. Do you have any idea who ran the underground railroad? (Many Northern Christians and remember it was illegal). How about civil rights in the 60s? What was Dr. Martin Luther King a Doctor of? (Christian Theology and he and his followers were beaten and jailed). I could go on and on. There are stupid people in churches as much as there as stupid people outside of them. I won't give you a pass on poor history or re-writing it to suit your belief system. Much good work was done by Christians and much bad work was done too in that name..
    As far as persecution goes, in America there hasn't been any real religious persecution in a long time... but you bugged me with grabbing for the Slave owner.. why not grab for the Inquisition... which I would argue was done by folks manipulating the system and not the deeply spiritual..
  • I'm going to argue on a forum because I have nothing better to do with my life. Oh wait. No I'm not. I'm going to read the article and move on.