Doing what matters through our Social Justice Hackathon

  • Posted on March 28, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

The INSPIRE Black Employee Network’s Global Social Justice Hackathon kicked off in February. Hosted through a partnership with the Innocence Project non-profit organization, this annual event serves as a platform for all Avanade employees to collaborate across regions to build technology which empowers underrepresented groups, nurtures inclusive thought, fosters interdisciplinary collaboration, and creates a better world for all. Employees have the opportunity to take on unique roles that differ from their day-to-day work. This year, participating teams will create solutions oriented around four key challenges: Physical and Mental Wellbeing; Social and Political Engagement; Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging; and Access and Opportunity. 

The hackathon planning committee has been hard at work to make this happen. Each of us is connected by a shared passion for social justice and the idea of “being the change you want to see in the world.”  

As we look forward to the rest of FY23 – and the announcement of hackathon winners in June –  a few of the committee members gathered to reflect on the impact of this event. Read on to hear why volunteering is important to each of us. 
Nina Arora-Rowland: Why do I volunteer to be a part of the planning committee for the INSPIRE Social Justice Hackathon? Well, I was a participant the first year and I truly enjoyed the collaboration and networking opportunities it brought. Then I thought, “why not help plan it?” Now I’ve been a part of the planning committee for two years running. This year’s hackathon has the potential to produce work which can be leveraged to have a significant impact on marginalized or underrepresented communities and address the inequities built into our society. This has been a part of my life’s mission since my college days (over 30 years!). It is deeply personal to me. There are so many ways we can “do something” to effect change. But to be able to use one’s professional talents and skills to do the same, while at work… that’s a precious gift. And I hope to continue to build on this and help evolve the hackathon year over year. 

Madiha Mirza: I decided to get involved as the Co-Chair of the Social Justice Hackathon planning  committee because I want to be a stronger ally to underrepresented groups. In INSPIRE’s Social Justice Hackathon, I found my passion: combining allyship and tech savviness to solve social justice challenges. My involvement with INSPIRE Social Justice Hackathon over the last three years has taught me that it requires a deep commitment to promote inclusivity and respect for all and that we all have a role to play in creating a more just and equitable society.  

Lizzy Nguyen:
Volunteering will always have a special place in my heart. I personally find joy in volunteering because it  educates me about challenges in the world, my surrounding communities, and sometimes even matters that hit close to home. We all have memories that we cherish or think back on, experiences in life that make us see things in a different light and help us find causes to be passionate about. For me, a vivid memory was seeing my mother cry often at the dinner table as a child; money was always a topic of discussion and at times we couldn’t spare $2.75 for milk during the week. Regardless of our family’’ financial hardships, my parents still donated clothes to other families, provided advice, made time to pray and contribute to Sunday mass, and shared their meals and endless love.  

People often say, “it takes a village to raise a child.” I felt that growing up. For months at a time our grandparents were our parents, our neighbors were our nannies, and our friends were our supporters. Receiving their help and watching my parents share the little that they had showed me the importance behind giving back without expectations. 
Daniel Brown: Volunteering is a no-brainer. We're built to help each other when we can; it's how we've survived, prospered and progressed into who we are now. Jobs as we know them have a noticeable lack of volunteering – yet as a society, if we were to fully lose the will to volunteer, we would lose a part of our humanity. This hackathon is about having a genuine human impact and helping others.. I wouldn't say volunteering is a strong part of my identity, but similar to a job, it's something that must be done – and it feels great doing it. I'm excited to see what everyone accomplishes with an immaterial objective in this hackathon. If you were to focus your goal towards helping a community, a neighborhood, a family, a person, what would you do for them? 

Susan Varghese: Similar to Nina, my involvement with INSPIRE began as a team member in a previous year’s hackathon. The enriching experiences, cross-skill practice and amazing people I met had made the experience both unexpected and unforgettable. Fueled by the impact of the teams’ solutions for marginalized groups, I got involved in this year’s Hackathon planning committee, eager to support that impact and urge others to get involved. The impact of the Hackathon is tangible and scalable across both society and the business, and I am always grateful for the opportunity to build on Avanade’s I&D goals and contribute to a more equitable society. 

No matter the reason, each of us came together to make a genuine human impact. By leveraging our skills honed through our day-to-day work, we are empowered to have a significant effect on marginalized communities and address the inequities built into our society. With that in mind, we’ll pose a question: How are you being the change you would like to see? What steps can you take today toward making that impact a reality?

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