Around the world, women and people of color rely on tech gadgets that have sprung primarily from the minds of white men—but that’s about to change.
As the Cherokee Nation works to preserve its vibrant culture, one of its goals is to save its language. Like most Native American tongues, the Cherokee language is at risk of extinction as fluent speakers enter old age and the younger generation learns mainly English.
A unique partnership with Microsoft may very well turn the tide. “Our Native American Employee Network Group here at Microsoft and a Cherokee Nation team worked for over two years to get the language and a font to be included as one of the 109 worldwide languages supported in our Office software,” says Gwen Houston, general manager of global diversity and inclusion at Microsoft. “That’s a wonderful partnership for us, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, which has such a rich history of Native American culture.” Like all kids, young Cherokees have embraced technology, so the Cherokee Nation will now have software to help ensure the preservation of its language for generations to come.
Tech companies are seeing that diverse employees can shed light on the needs of their own communities—and that understanding ultimately leads to more useful products. “The diversity of our workforce is a real strength for us,” Houston says. “It gives us the opportunity to pioneer the inventions that the world needs and to create products that consumers around the world want.”