After nearly ten years, I have stepped down as a Microsoft MVP due to unacceptable behaviour of some of my MVP peers both towards me and ‘in passing’ where I have been exposed to vile commentary. I cannot stay in a Program where it is not a safe space for me.
Additionally, the silence of spectators has convinced me that Diversity and Inclusion efforts are not hitting home. I also do not want to continue being part of the lie that things are ok for Women in Technology. I have tried my best to make things better but I cannot change things.
Donald Trump said this week that he asked his team to ‘slow down’ the virus testing because it meant that they would find more cases. In this way, the MVP Program will have less complaints about diversity and inclusion efforts, so that may appear like a success for them. The truth is, they have lost the opportunity to do and be better. I have also lost any hope I had that they will do better, and they have lost my voice in trying to make it so for nearly ten years; longer than many people actually work for Microsoft as a job. The Humans of IT / Diversity and Inclusion efforts have to be more than a marketing effort. It has to be part of the DNA, and given the silence, there is a long way to go. I am not trying any longer.
Very specifically, MeToo is not a joke and people need to speak out as leaders to support other people. People saw what as written about me (in one example problem I had) and in another example, the vile commentary (not aimed at me) but which I was exposed to. A related issue was the indifference of my ex-fellow MVPs who said nothing, and the Microsoft staff who said nothing. Nobody reached out. I cannot begin to tell you how hurtful it has been, and I have not eaten for about two days.
For those of you who need to understand that #MeToo is not a joke, here are some sample blogs to get you started. Where I have previously said that I felt safe, I no longer do. And that’s not just down to one offender; that’s also down to the fact that nobody (except one woman) supported me, and that includes Microsoft and MVP people.
I tried to implement an Open Source Charter for dealing with harassment at events, but only two MVPs stepped forward to try and help. It’s just not a priority. I also no longer felt safe at Microsoft events; although I am not referring to this person earlier in the current blog, I was additionally worried that this guy would turn up at events and what would I do then? Note that the blog starts off talking about two other incidents and he had nothing to do with those. These are two other situations. The problems are more widespread than just this situation.
I have plenty more to say but, for now, I leave you with two quotes:
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King, Jr.