Founded in 1982, Adobe is a global software company known for its design products, including Acrobat and Photoshop, and software for processing documents, photos and videos. It also operates an e-commerce platform, in addition to its cloud computing and business intelligence software services. The company has offices in more than two dozen countries around the world. In 2021, more than 400 billion PDFs were opened using Adobe products.
Adobe advances women’s digital inclusion by enhancing their access to and participation in the technological sector. Adobe’s Women-in-Technology Scholarship focuses on supporting female undergraduate and master’s students studying artificial intelligence/machine learning, data science, computer science or mobile/web development at North American universities, including Canada and Mexico. Since 2018, Adobe has also been a member of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, which is an initiative by Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures and leading tech companies to double the number of Black, Latina and Native American women graduating with computing degrees by 2025. Adobe also facilitates digital access for diverse users, including people with disabilities. ‘Inclusive design’ is central to Adobe’s product design processes – accessible design principles have been integrated into products like Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Pro, and Adobe continuously solicits feedback for its product design from people with disabilities. The company also partners with non-profit organisations to support accessibility initiatives, such as recruiting people with disabilities for a summer internship programme in India and creating an educational video to promote disability equality.
The Adobe Digital Academy in the United States provides apprenticeships, mentorship, scholarships and training to career switchers who are members of vulnerable or non-traditional groups. Participants attend a three-month boot camp, where they are taught user experience design, data science and software engineering skills to help them gain employment in the tech industry.
Adobe promotes open-source projects to build its own products while concurrently being a steward of various open-source initiatives. The company collaborates with universities on research in the areas of AI, machine learning, data intelligence, graphics systems and languages, among others. Adobe also fosters innovation in the tech start-up ecosystem by providing venture capital investment to early- and mid-stage companies and funding support via the Adobe Fund for Design. To ensure that Adobe’s research and development (R&D) is guided by ethical considerations, the company has created a dedicated ethics committee and review board.
Adobe has a programme to increase digital access for women, but it does not have an initiative to promote affordable access to digital technologies for members of vulnerable groups. The company has an opportunity to increase its transparency by reporting how the value it creates is distributed among its stakeholders, in addition to disclosing its income taxes paid and employment in its main markets.
The company can disclose its financial and in-kind contribution and participation metrics for programmes that it provides through the Adobe Digital Academy. It can also carry out a third-party impact assessment to increase understanding of the academy’s impact. The company also has an opportunity to support other digital skills development and school connectivity.
Adobe has the opportunity to make an explicit high-level commitment to cybersecurity. It can also enhance transparency by making its information security management certificate publicly available and allowing all users to request a copy of their personal information.
Adobe has a venture capital fund and supports the tech start-up ecosystem by providing funding support for start-ups. An area of opportunity for Adobe is to provide support for start-ups whose founders are members of underrepresented groups or for social and non-profit start-ups. Additionally, it can support research on sustainable development issues.
Core Social Assessment
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Adobe has a grievance mechanism accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. However, it does not have a publicly available statement that demonstrates its commitment to respecting human rights. Also, it does not disclose a process to identify, assess and act on all salient human rights risks in its own operations and in its business relationships, nor does it engage with stakeholders whose human rights could be impacted by its operations.
Adobe publicly commits to respecting worker health and safety and to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Beyond these commitments, the company places health and safety expectations on its business relationships and monitors their performance. It also has a target to “increase representation of women in leadership positions globally to 30% by 2025.” Already, the company has a third of women in its highest governance body. In terms of workforce diversity, the company discloses a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by gender and race/ethnicity. However, it does not disclose this information by age group. Adobe is also not explicit in stating that it does not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours.
Adobe discloses a global tax strategy, the responsibility for which is assigned to a board-level committee. The company discloses the income taxes it pays in three categories – federal, state and foreign. However, it does not disclose its income tax payments in individual tax jurisdictions. The company has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in its business relationship contracts. It also has a grievance mechanism for stakeholders to raise concerns and complaints on the topic. However, in relation to lobbying and political engagement, Adobe does not explicitly state that it does not make political contributions and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.