Microsoft’s 2013 Citizenship Report describes an ambitious agenda that includes making its operations carbon neutral and using the “power of technology” to promote human rights.
The software giant’s fiscal year 2013 was pivotal on those points, as CEO Steven A. Ballmer writes in the report, because it took the “first big, bold steps” in its transformation to a devices and services company and in its citizenship work.
Some citizenship developments he mentioned:
- The company’s “giving campaign” reached the 30-year milestone; it’s a program where Microsoft matches employee financial aid and volunteer contributions. In FY13 the company and its employees gave more than $100 million to more than 18,000 nonprofits worldwide.
- Microsoft launched YouthSpark, an initiative that connects hundreds of millions of young people with opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship. “In its first year, YouthSpark empowered more than 100 million youth to imagine and build a better future for themselves and their communities,” Ballmer said.
- The Technology for Good program provided more than 70,000 nonprofits across the globe with affordable access to technology. That included a program to donate Office 365 to nonprofits in 41 countries. The company donated software valued at $795 million.
- Microsoft met its goal of carbon neutrality by establishing an internal carbon fee that guides “responsible choices and practices that help us minimize our environmental footprint,” he said.
Microsoft also enhanced its transparency practices through the release of its first report of law enforcement requests for Microsoft account user data. “This report detailed the number of data requests we received from official legal entities, the number of requests we granted, and the rigor of our review process for each request,” Ballmer said.
The report says Microsoft is working to bring the “power of technology” to bear in promoting respect for human rights, through the Microsoft Technology and Human Rights Center. In that regard, Microsoft was recognized as a corporate citizenship leader with its inclusion in the 2013 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices and the FTSE4Good Index.
On environmental sustainability, Microsoft said 300,000 metric tons of CO2 was offset by innovative projects such as the company-wide carbon fee and the purchase of 2.3 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy—more than twice the amount purchased in FY12.
“We instituted a carbon fee last year because it had the potential to ignite a culture change, and that’s exactly what’s starting to happen. A carbon price means that we now have a common language for how to drive awareness around and begin to reduce emissions. It’s made environmental sustainability an increasingly important part of how Microsoft does business,” said Rob Bernard, the company’s chief environmental strategist.
There are three pillars in this strategy: “Be lean, be green, be accountable.”
For example, the company’s latest data centers in Ireland, Iowa, Virginia, and Washington use only 1 to 3 percent of the water needed for a traditional data center, and they produce no wastewater.
The report asserts that it’s about the mission to help people, the company and businesses reach their full potential. So it goes beyond simply releasing products, as it has done since 1975: today, the world’s social and economic challenges mean that Microsoft is invested in applying “technology, ingenuity and collaborative spirit” to help solve those challenges.
[Image: Microsoft 2013 Citizenship Report cover]