ThisisMe: Building an internal ED&I tool using Microsoft PowerApps

In my role as a Collaboration Consultant at Chorus, I have the pleasure of working hands-on with a wide range of products and solutions in Microsoft 365.

In a recent project with one of our clients, I was asked to implement a solution to capture the preferred pronouns and phonetic name spelling of a user – to have the values automatically added to their email signature. This was in support of the ‘MyNameIs’ initiative, which brings a greater sense of inclusion to the employee and their colleagues.

I felt a particular affinity towards this initiative because of an unfortunate incident early in my career when I phoned a customer and asked to speak to ‘Si-ob-han’. Needless to say, Siobhan (pronounced Sha-vawn), was not impressed with my naïve mispronunciation, and I had a strong feeling that this was not the first time she had to make the awkward correction. (Sorry Siobhan!).

Perhaps as a direct consequence of that incident, I recognised that I tend to avoid using any person’s name if I’m not confident in pronouncing it correctly, through fear of causing offence. A conversation with a colleague revealed that this is far more common than I realised.

Creating ‘ThisisMe’ to support internal ED&I

Chorus take great pride in their commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, so the use case for this type functionality within Chorus was clear from the start. I excitedly drafted a Proof-of-Concept app using Microsoft Power Apps to showcase the potential to our Managing Director (Nicky Saner). Nicky was very keen for me to develop this further and implement as an internal tool for all Chorus employees.

The idea became: ‘ThisIsMe’.

ThisIsMe is an end-to-end solution that allows Chorus employees to optionally share details about their identity. This includes: Phonetic Spelling of their name, an Audio recording to help with pronunciation, How they like to be known (e.g., if ‘Michael’ would prefer to be known as ‘Mike’) and their Preferred Pronouns. There is an additional option to add ‘Phonetic Spelling’, ‘Known as’ and ‘Preferred Pronoun’ values to the users external email signature.

Using PowerApps to build ‘ThisisMe’

The solution uses a Microsoft Power Apps canvas app to collect the data. The app is designed with a fully branded, visually engaging multi-screen form, where the user can navigate through each option. Each screen includes information and instructions and allows the user to set the appropriate values. The final page includes a preview of how the values will appear on their email signature.

Submitting the form data will create a new item in a purpose-built SharePoint list. The list is formatted as a card and embedded into a SharePoint page that is accessible as a tab on the company-wide Chorus Teams channel. Clicking on a users’ ‘card’ on this page will also play the recorded audio using an embedded media player webpart.

If a change to the email signature is selected, the data will trigger an approval process in Power Automate. The Approval will be sent by email to the users Line Manager, for them to ensure the free text values meet the expected standard for the email signature.

Once approved, an Azure Logic app will be triggered to send the data to an Azure runbook. This will automatically run a PowerShell script to add/remove the values against the users’ Azure profile.

A confirmation email will be sent to the user on success, and their email signature will reflect the changes within 12 hours.

Launching ThisisMe within Chorus

Since launching ThisisMe, the app has been well received and greatly used. Already, people are referring to it to help them with pronouncing names or making sure that they address people in the way they want to be recognised.

If your company is interested, I’d highly recommend looking into the ‘MyNameIs’ initiative. If you’d like to find out more about the PowerApp that we have built, please get in touch.