Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the world’s largest software company. Its products include operating systems, office applications, cloud-based solutions, software development tools, video games and computer devices. The company also owns the professional networking site LinkedIn and the developer portal GitHub. Sales outside the United States accounted for almost half the company’s revenues in the 2020 fiscal year. Microsoft Azure is a leading cloud provider with data centres throughout the world.
Microsoft has committed to accessible design principles and its Windows and Office products have a host of accessibility features that accommodate people with a wide range of disabilities. The company also discloses the number of its employees with disabilities.
Microsoft’s TEALS programme pairs computer science professionals with high school teachers in North America. The company provides cash grants, technology and resources to support teachers’ training in computer science. Microsoft also funds non-profits to provide technical skills training to vulnerable groups in the US.
Microsoft maintains a repository of open source code and several programmes. It also supports and collaborates on open source research. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has increased its support for artificial intelligence (AI) for health and other research fields focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Notably, it is a leading proponent of establishing ethics around the use of AI. It has a committee that advises on AI research and it publishes the ethical principles it follow in its AI activities.
Microsoft has an opportunity to support initiatives for digital and media literacy that offer in-person training. The company should improve transparency by reporting on its financial and in-kind contribution to its existing programmes on advancing digital skills.
Through its membership in various industry associations, Microsoft has an opportunity to share its leading practices and advocate for broader adoption of open, sustainable, inclusive and ethical innovation.
Core social indicators
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.
Microsoft meets all indicators with regard to respecting human rights. The company commits to respecting human rights and the ILO core labour rights. It also has a publicly available policy statement that expects its business relationships to commit to respecting the ILO core labour rights. Furthermore, Microsoft identifies, assesses and takes action to address its salient human rights issues in its own operations and in its business relationships. Additionally, the company identifies and engages with stakeholders whose human rights have been or may be impacted by its operations. It also has a grievance mechanism accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints.
Microsoft publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers and expects its business relationships to do the same. The company does not disclose a policy commitment stating that it does not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours. It also does not explicitly state that it requires its business relationships to make this commitment. Furthermore, the company provides no relevant evidence in relation to paying its workers a living wage. The company commits to gender equality and women’s empowerment, but it does not disclose a time-bound target on the subject. Microsoft also has an opportunity to improve its disclosure on workforce diversity by including more indicators of diversity per employee category, such as age group.
Microsoft has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. Furthermore, the company takes steps to identify and address bribery and corruption. It also has a grievance mechanism for stakeholders to raise concerns and complaints on the topic. Microsoft does not disclose any relevant information in relation to tax, such as a global tax strategy or income tax payments in individual tax jurisdictions. The company does disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. However, it has no publicly available statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures for its global operations.