At the heart of Micro Focus INSPIRE, our corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, is a dedicated team of 50 CSR Ambassadors – employees who volunteer their time to drive the program locally, and who collectively help engage more than 12,000 Micro Focus employees in 49 countries worldwide.
In this interview series, we put the spotlight on those people – our CSR Ambassadors – who bring the program to life in their locations and empower employees to get involved and make a difference, while championing our commitment as a socially responsible company.
From advocating equal pay and gender equality – and meeting former US President Barack Obama as part of her efforts – to encouraging the next generation of technologists, meet CSR Ambassador, Laquitta DeMerchant, Premium Support, Service Account Manager, Micro Focus. Laquitta is based in Texas and leads the Micro Focus INSPIRE program in Houston.
Why is being a CSR Ambassador important to you?
Laquitta: As a woman of colour who works in technology, I was often the only woman, and at times the only woman and woman of colour, in the meeting room. I want more diversity “in the room where it happens” as I have thoroughly enjoyed my 20-year career in technology and want others to have access to the same.
I have taken part in many movements, events and initiatives to raise awareness and to help drive change. I’ve mentored for the Oakland Black Male Achievement Hackathon; the “Essence: Yes We Code” hackathon; been a tech day volunteer and speaker at the World Youth Foundation (where I was also a board executive director); and supported Prospanica and The Alliance, where I was a former board member.
In all capacities, my aim was to help people in underserved communities understand the opportunities and pathways into technical careers. Tell us about Micro Focus INSPIRE in Houston:
Laquitta: Just as we were off to an excellent start with employees identifying non-profit organizations to support, COVID-19 developed. We stood down from our plans, putting employee safety first and reconsidered our volunteering options.
We pivoted our plans to provide remote volunteering opportunities instead of face-to-face, this included supporting the Community Scientist Program with MD Anderson. The program provides researchers with rapid feedback from trained community members to ensure their research projects are culturally appropriate and relevant to the community. The program was developed to be in-person; however, it is now taking place via Zoom. It also includes research into the impact of COVID-19 in our everyday lives.
Why do you volunteer?
Laquitta: To help the next generation find their way – besides, giving a helping hand to those in need is fulfilling work. I believe that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”