Posted by Fred HumphriesVice President, US Government Affairs
As we approach the 2010 midterm elections, the topic of political contributions has received much media attention so I wanted to provide background on Microsoft’s own policies. As part of Microsoft’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, we adopted a set of political principles several years ago which have been periodically updated. These political principles are available on our corporate website and are included annually in our Corporate Responsibility report.
More and more government officials are recognizing that, for their country or region to thrive, they need to foster local innovation. And to do so, they are increasingly looking to students – especially those studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – as the key to success.
Over the past 4 months, Imagine Cup students from across the globe who won their regional competitions have been celebrated by their government leaders for their technological feats. These leaders recognize that it’s not enough to just hope that students study STEM fields. They acknowledge the importance of prestigious technology competitions such as the Imagine Cup in inspiring students to get excited about and pursue an education or career in science and technology.
With more than 325,000 students registering worldwide last year, the Imagine Cup is now the world’s premier student technology competition – challenging students to use technology to solve the world’s toughest problems. As you’ll see in the photos below, the finalists of last year’s competition have been hailed as national heroes because of their creative thinking and passion for designing solutions to solve real-world problems.
Last week, New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, literally brought the point home about the importance of innovation to drive growth when he announced the city’s partnership with Microsoft to host the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals next July.
Enjoy this celebration of the confluence of ingenuity and social consciousness!
On October 18th, two Imagine Cup 2010 finalists were invited to participate in the first annual White House Science Fair. Wilson To from the Mobilife team and Christian Hood from BeastWare had the opportunity to meet President Obama, standing among 60 students from across the nation that were recognized for their creative thinking and innovations in science, technology, engineering and math. You can read more about the White House Science Fair on the Imagine Cup blog.
Posted by Anthony Salcito Vice President for Worldwide Education
This week I’m in Cape Town, South Africa and lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the most innovative education leaders, teachers and administrators in the world. We’re all gathered here for the sixth annual Worldwide Innovation Education Forum (IEF), the first time for the event ever to be held on African soil.
Attendees of this event include more than 500 educators, school leaders and government officials representing over 60 countries that continue to creatively and effectively use technology in their curriculum to help improve the way students learn. This is the worldwide finale of a year’s worth of country and regional events, during which 200,000 participants were whittled down to 125 teacher finalists presenting at IEF this week.
Posted by John SeethoffVice President and Deputy General Counsel
I’ve blogged in the past that we believe effective corporate governance should include regular, constructive conversations with shareholders and other stakeholders. We have put this into practice by actively listening to our shareholders and seeking input several times each year. Shareholders regularly communicate with our board directly via email. Additionally, this year as part of our annual shareholder meeting shareholders can submit questions in advance via our investor relations website.
This ongoing exchange has provided insights that contributed to changes in our corporate governance framework, such as giving shareholders the right to call special shareholder meetings. This ongoing dialogue also played an important role in our decision to hold an advisory vote on executive compensation (also referred to as “Say-on-Pay”). The first vote took place last November at our annual meeting, where nearly 99 percent of the votes received supported our compensation policies.
While our shareholders strongly supported our overall compensation program, we continually consider input from shareholders and review our compensation and other corporate governance policies. Last fall after filing our 2009 proxy statement, we announced an update to our policy on relocation benefits. In a few instances in recent years the company had agreed to accept risk on the re-sale of an executive officer’s former home, but the collapse of the housing market led to unanticipated costs for Microsoft. As a result, we announced that we were extending the period for repayment of certain relocation benefits, so that if an executive voluntarily leaves Microsoft within two years of joining the company we can recover amounts paid for relocation assistance. Our previous policy had been to require reimbursement of relocation assistance only if an executive left Microsoft within one year.
Based on additional input from several shareholders and our ongoing review of our policies, we are now taking additional steps to reduce the company’s exposure on relocation costs by including reasonable caps on the total relocation benefit that would be paid to an executive officer. We also are lengthening the recovery period for any relocation payments to match any longer recovery period that would apply to a signing bonus paid to the executive. For example, if the signing bonus recovery period established for an incoming executive is three years, then under our new policy the recovery period for relocation assistance would also be three years.
Posted by Mary SnappCorporate Vice President and Deputy General CounselExecutive Sponsor for LCA Diversity and Inclusion
Microsoft’s Legal and Corporate Affairs department is very pleased to announce that it has signed the American Bar Association’s “Pledge for Change: Disability Diversity in the Legal Profession. “ As a signatory to the Pledge, Microsoft affirms its commitment to the inclusion of people with disabilities as an integral part of its diversity efforts for the legal department and the legal profession. Microsoft has also committed to encouraging other legal departments and law firms with whom it works to make similar commitments. For more information from the ABA on the Pledge see http://new.abanet.org/disability/Pages/Pledge.aspx.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month provides the perfect moment for Microsoft to reaffirm its view that people with disabilities are equal participants in this industry-wide dialogue and in Microsoft overall effort to promote inclusion and diversity in the legal profession.
Microsoft strives to promote diversity overall within the legal profession. Microsoft is a founding member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity www.lcldnet.org and has long been a signatory to the Council’s Call to Action. In addition, Microsoft has developed a Law Firm Diversity Program to encourage diversity within law firms representing Microsoft.
Microsoft is also a proud sponsor of the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities (www.nalswd.com). Disability issues are a regular part of many panels, programs and presentations on legal diversity at Microsoft and we are honored to be recognized for our work in the book Disability and Business: Best Practices and Strategies for Inclusion, by author Charles Riley, who identified Microsoft as one of the top two U.S. employers for people with disabilities.