I’ve decided to talk about a sensitive subject(s). Diversity, Inclusion, Exclusion, Women in IT, Personal Development, Self Esteem & Sensitivity. Oh and the Zombie Apocalypse. It’s about not labeling people and actually ‘seeing’ them for who they truly are. Giving credit where due, and helping people build skills where needed. Let’s see if we can disagree to agree? Challenge accepted…


Yes this is going to upset some people. I suggest you get over it. But read it first, and think about it. If the only thing I can do is to get you thinking about it, then I’m happy and my work here is done.

Yup! This is not going to be a 5 minute read either…

Disclaimer:  I absolutely made up these categories as I don’t always agree with the whole nature vs nurture classification. I don’t have a degree in psychology or reckon I know everything. I’m just trying to figure things out for myself, and always appreciate your feedback – even if you don’t agree. The world has become so ‘sensitive’ that people have become scared to voice their opinions. When we don’t express our opinions, we can’t disagree (in a nice way) which means we also cannot gain new perspectives or change the way we think. It’s ok to disagree, what’s not acceptable is when we don’t respect each other’s opinions and choices. 

Definitions:

Let’s first start with some definitions (which is what this is all about):

diversity

/dʌɪˈvəːsɪti,dɪˈvəːsɪti/
noun

inclusion

/ɪnˈkluːʒ(ə)n/
noun
the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure
a person or thing that is included within a whole

Physical versus non-physical attributes:

We cannot make decisions, based on only 33% of the facts – that would be disastrous. Same goes for labeling people and assigning value based on the 33% you can ‘see’. Most of what makes us who we are cannot be seen. 

If you had to choose me for a project or contract because I’m Female, White, Christian, Afrikaans and Heterosexual, you would make a huge mistake. As I’m most probably the complete opposite to people who fit that profile. I ride motorbikes, have 84 tattoos, typical feisty tomboy rebel, who defies authority and kicks against the norm.

Discrimination:

I’m not naive and I don’t deny the ‘abuse’ I experienced in my career because I was female. For years I worked for a third (or less) of the salaries of my male peers, even when I was worth more. When asking for increases I was told (exact words), that women can be kicked out underneath any stone to perform the work and that Company X would never pay me that money, or that I had no value in the company as I had no value outside of the company. The difference is I’m not sitting in a corner somewhere feeling sorry for myself. It made me fight harder, work longer hours and continue learning. I don’t regret a single moment of it.

Pedestals:

Yes I’m an MVP and that might confuse you about my statement of “not putting people on pedestals”. I do believe that MVP’s are NOT chosen for their race, religion, gender etc. but for their attributes. It’s about the passion and commitment they bring to the table – and that I agree with. If I was chosen as an MVP because I’m female, then please Microsoft, take it away.

I don’t agree with participation awards and unjustified sympathy. That will cause all of us to become grey and average – and that’s not something I want to be.

What I mean by putting someone on a pedestal, is by singling someone out.

Correction:

So how do we fix this? As I’m female, and from South Africa, I fully understand the injustice of sexism and racism. I also appreciate the use of quota systems to put focus on the ‘automatic’ discrimination that continued long after people even realized it was still happening. Yes, it helped force the restoration of balance (which would have taken too long to ‘restore’ on it’s own).

However…

Once the awareness has been created, we need to be careful that those exact systems don’t become (in this example) reverse racism or sexism.

And this brings me to Women in IT. This is what I consider a perfect example of how we are starting to ‘over’correct a problem. When we single out someone, it means we consider the ‘others’ not good enough. I think we’ve put enough focus on this now, it’s time to move forward from ‘fixing’ to ‘healing’ which is Diversity and Inclusion or . That means everyone is included, the whole caboodle. We all have a place in the sun, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop trying to be better than we were yesterday. We have to keep on learning, developing, sharing, growing.

Exclusion:

Recently I formed part of the Diversity panel at Microsoft Ignite, it was a great honor and I learnt a lot from the others and the audience. I know I wasn’t picked because I’m a girl. Shona Chee ( Founder +  Community Mentors Program) knows me far too well, she knew I was coming to the party with a different perspective, and I thank her for allowing me to be me, #CrazyPants and all.

I was a bit afraid to speak my mind, as I was going against what most were saying. But I stood up and addressed the ladies (and gents). I told the story of how most of my discrimination came from self-exclusion (because I felt I wasn’t good enough, I stepped back). I was overwhelmed with the positive response I got. Which confirmed my suspicions…. most of our problems comes from low self-esteem.

Personal Development:

At last… this brings me to the fix.

I believe we should be investing in the “previously disadvantaged” by supporting and supplying them with the necessary tools to develop the skills they need to excel and claim their rightfully earned place among everyone else.

But… (of course there’s a but)

Please don’t sit back and expect to get special treatment and be spoon fed. Get up, fight back, invest in yourself through personal development, especially when someone is not doing it for you. There’s loads of free resources out there to help you, for example Mind Tools.

And…

Promise me, if you’re in the position to pick your teams, pick the right people, with the right attributes, regardless of race, religion or gender etc. Thank you for the inspiration Donovan Brown, your courage rubbed off on me for sure!


I am truly worried about the Industry not investing enough in people on a non-technical skills level. The results I’m getting is unbelievable and I wish more would follow suit. Sometimes it feels like I’m in a Zombie Apocalypse and I’m the only one standing on street corners screaming that people should exercise more (so they can run away from Zombies), and store food and water.

(Over)sensitivity, entitlement, ignorance and greed have become the zombies. Please peeps, let’s start investing back in our greatest assets – our people.


Phew, glad I got that off my chest 🙂

Other Resources:


SharePoint Conference 2019 in Vegas: May 21 to 23

Honored to be speaking at SharePoint Conference in Vegas, May 21-23, 2019. Follow & on Twitter for more updates, and click here to register: REMEMBER to use my discount code (SCHYFF) for $50 off! See you there!


New Initiative:

Every couple of months I’m going to travel to a new country, rent a motorcycle, and travel to as many communities as possible, for 15.2 days. Purpose would be to create awareness around Digital Literacy and give users an overview of Office 365 Apps and Services and how it can transform their lives. I’ll do video and written blogs to capture and share my journey and experiences.

Feedback would be crucial, and I’ll be using Microsoft Forms & Flow to gather valuable feedback for myself and Microsoft. I will be inviting other community members to join me on my journey when I’m in their respective areas.

Of course it wouldn’t be possible without sponsorship to help support this cause. Reach out if you’re interested on getting involved in any way, here’s a link to a Microsoft Form that can be completed: https://bit.ly/2LaQBRQ


REgarding 365:

“You can also find me contributing to REgarding 365. I’m a member of a group of enthusiasts, sharing their stories, thoughts and opinions about Microsoft 365. Catch us at https://regarding365.com | @regarding365 on Twitter and regarding365 on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/regarding365


Disclaimer: I create content about Office / Microsoft 365. Content is accurate at time of publication, however updates and new additions happen daily which could change the accuracy or relevance. Please keep this in mind when
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