Microsoft is a global technology giant that is paving the way to an era of intelligent cloud (Facts About Microsoft). They are the creators of many modern technologies such as Windows 10, Xbox, and Azure (Facts About Microsoft). This report will analyse Microsoft’s commitments to its corporate social responsibility and their activity in the media.
Microsoft is committed to utilizing their technology to benefit the future of humanity and the planet (Corporate Social Responsibility). One of the ways they demonstrate this is through their commitment to becoming carbon negative. The company plans to be carbon negative by 2030, this includes their supply and value chains (Corporate Social Responsibility Report). They are also committed to utilizing solely renewable energy for all their data centres, buildings, and campuses by 2025 (Smith). Microsoft launched a sustainability calculator to allow their customers to understand their carbon impact, along with the ability to choose which green energy they want to use for their services (Smith). Their aim is to remove all the carbon emissions that the company has ever emitted by 2050 (Corporate Social Responsibility Report). To reduce the carbon footprint of their suppliers and customers, the company has created a $1 billion fund for the development of technologies that could reduce, capture, or remove carbon (Smith).
Microsoft is also helping communities around the world. The company’s employees were empowered to volunteer over 750,000 hours in a single year (Corporate Social Responsibility Report). This is on top of the donations that totaled $221 million USD (including the money that the company matched) (Corporate Social Responsibility Report). They launched a $40 million, five-year program that would go to the development of AI by researchers and organizations (Kahan). This is the fifth of their programs targeting the development of AI totalling $165 million (Kahan). By collaborating with Harvard, the company was able to extract useful data from datasets while keeping the privacy of individuals (Kahan). The company has also partnered with many different organizations such as Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the Novartis Foundation (Kahan). The partnered projects include researching sudden infant death syndrome and trying to eliminate leprosy (Kahan). More recently, the company has created interactive visualizations about COVID-19 as a part of their AI for Health program (Understanding our progress against COVID-19).
An article published by The Verge discusses Microsoft’s progress on its climate pledges. One of the points in the article was that Microsoft’s commitment didn’t mean that it would stop producing greenhouse gases but cancel out their emissions by paying others to recapture it (Calma). The company has mostly relied on forests to lessen their carbon footprint and less than one percent of their emissions were removed by direct air capture technologies (Calma). Microsoft has also funded projects through the Nature Conservancy; however, some of their projects provided no additional benefit to the climate (Calma). There are some positives as well, the company was able to reduce Xbox standby power usage from 15W to less than 2W and tested putting data centres under the ocean (Calma).
An article from The Harvard Gazette talks about tracking COVID cases. Researchers from both Harvard and Microsoft AI for Health collaborated to create a COVID-19 live tracker for the United States (Radsken). The data had previously never been compiled and the data for each congressional district was not readily available, even after a year into the pandemic (Radsken). This information would allow better exanimation of efficacy of federal programs in heavily affected areas (Radsken). The tracker was able to show that the two districts with the greatest number of cases in Texas were very far geographically (Radsken). This allowed better understanding of the spread and for the public to see the progress that policies are making (Radsken).
In conclusion, Microsoft has committed and demonstrated strong corporate social responsibility. The company had shown that it is trying to follow its commitment to becoming carbon negative and the development of AI. The Verge criticized some of Microsoft’s effort; however, the company did make progress and The Harvard Gazette talks about the success of the COVID-19 live tracker collaboration.
Calma, Justine. “Microsoft made a giant climate pledge one year ago — here’s where it’s at now” The Verge. The Verge, 28 January 2021. Web. 7 July. 2021. https://www.theverge.com/2021/1/28/22254483/microsoft-climate-change-pledge-update-carbon-dioxide-removal n.a. “Corporate Social Responsibility” Microsoft. Microsoft, n.d. Web. 7 July. 2021. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/corporate-responsibility n.a. “Corporate Social Responsibility Report” Microsoft. Microsoft, n.d. Web. 7 July. 2021. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/corporate-responsibility/report n.a. “Facts About Microsoft” Microsoft. Microsoft, n.d. Web. 7 July. 2021. https://news.microsoft.com/facts-about-microsoft/ Kahan, John. “Using AI to advance the health of people and communities around the world” Microsoft. Microsoft, 29 January 2020. Web. 7 July. 2021. https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2020/01/29/ai-for-health-child-mortality/ Radsken, Jill. “Live tracker notes COVID cases, deaths by congressional districts” The Harvard Gazette. Harvard University, 24 November 2020. Web. 7 July. 2021. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/11/harvard-centers-and-microsoft-collaborate-on-covid-tracker/ Smith, Brad. “Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030” Microsoft. Microsoft, 16 January 2020. Web. 7 July. 2021. https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2020/01/16/microsoft-will-be-carbon-negative-by-2030/ n.a. “Understanding our progress against COVID-19” Microsoft. Microsoft, n.d. Web. 7 July. 2021. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai/ai-for-health-covid-data