February, 2014

  • Building Better Businesses and a Better World

    By Steve Lippman, Director, Corporate Citizenship

    One of the great benefits of working for Microsoft is the wide range of authors, researchers, and policymakers who come to our campus to speak. This week we had the opportunity to hear from Alice Korngold, a well-known blogger and author who writes on topics of sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and corporate governance. (In fact, The Guardian newspaper named her among the 30 most influential sustainability voices in America.)

     Alice recently has written the book A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot. She had a wide ranging discussion on that theme with Dan Bross, Microsoft’s senior director of Corporate Citizenship.

    In their conversation, Alice pointed out that businesses have the scale and resources to make transformational change addressing global problems in ways that most Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) do not. She also observed that NGOs and businesses are not only increasingly collaborating, they are converging in some of their characteristics. She see many NGOs becoming increasingly businesslike and some leading companies becoming more oriented towards social missions.

    Indeed, Alice noted that while Microsoft is a for-profit company, our corporate mission statement to “help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential” could easily be the mission statement of an NGO. She believes that the most successful corporate citizenship initiatives are those which are tied to a company’s mission and enable them to grow their business and profitability. She was unapologetic in saying that good corporate citizenship should help companies’ business interests as well as societal needs, since those are the efforts that will be sustained and expanded over the long term. She cited Microsoft’s CityNext initiative to provide cities with technology solutions that increase their competitiveness and sustainability as a good example of aligning business and social interests.

    Finally, Alice talked about the passion of so many corporate responsibility practitioners she met while researching her book. She consistently saw their excitement in working collaboratively to tackle big societal challenges with other companies, NGOs, and governments. That fit with the overall theme of Alice’s talk that there is a growing sense of shared responsibility among business for building a better world….and that building that better world also results in better business for companies.

  • Celebrating UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day

    By Kari Sherrodd, Senior Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs

    Today we celebrate UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day by announcing the release of the Language Toolbox, a collection of free tools and resources related to Microsoft language technologies, and the addition of Welsh to our Microsoft Translator family. Microsoft has a longstanding commitment to using technology to bridge communication barriers through our Local Language Program, an offering of Microsoft YouthSpark.

    Microsoft Local Language Program’s Carla Hurd shares more information on the Microsoft on the Issues blog.

  • Generosity Rising: Microsoft’s Employees Raise Record-Breaking $113 Million for Nonprofits in 2013

    By Karen Bergin, Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs

    2013 was a year of record-breaking fundraising and volunteer work by Microsoft employees to support more than 19,000 nonprofit organizations seeking a cure for cancer, feeding and educating children around the world, providing job training, responding to devastating humanitarian and natural disasters, and much more. In all, Microsoft employees raised $113 million through a combination of individual donations, group fundraising activities during our annual Employee Giving Campaign in October, and logging nearly 460,000 volunteer hours.

    As General Counsel and Executive Vice President Brad Smith shares on the Official Microsoft Blog, “The past year has been a busy one at Microsoft – and not just because of new products, a new acquisition, and a new CEO. It has also been a busy time for our employees and their support of the nonprofit community...Amidst Microsoft’s transformation, the value of community involvement continues to define us as employees.”

    We also invite you to follow the conversation at #MSFTGiving and share your own Giving stories with us.

  • Empowering Youth to Change Their World

    By Lori Forte Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs

    Microsoft is very proud to announce our support for Free The Children, a global nonprofit dedicated to inspiring young people to help others in local communities near and far. As part of our company-wide YouthSpark initiative to empowering youth through technology, we’re launching a three-year commitment as co-title sponsors of Free the Children’s signature We Day event and We Act program in Seattle and in San Francisco.

    Microsoft YouthSpark reporters Gabrielle, Delaney and Keilon join We Day co-host Munro Chambers from the hit TeenNick TV show “Degrassi” at We Day Seattle 2013.

    Our goal is to encourage more young people to build and use technology to change their world – like these four Ukrainian students who developed a way to translate sign language into the written word by embedding flex sensors, gyroscopes, touch sensors and accelerometers into a glove…and these three young men in Uganda who created a portable and affordable device to deliver prenatal health care in rural areas of their country…and students like Sneha, a sophomore at the University of California, who created an app that combines gaming and social networking to encourage other students to get involved in local fundraising and community work. 

    We’re incredibly inspired by these stories, and working with Free The Children, we hope to encourage and empower even more talented youth who are eager to put their smarts, passion, and energy toward making the world a better place. Please join us as we celebrate more stories like these at We Day Seattle on March 21 and at We Day California on March 26!

    To learn more and find out how to get involved, visit www.WeDay.com.

  • Microsoft YouthSpark Challenge for Change Contest Is Back!

    By Kari Sherrodd, Senior Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs

    Microsoft YouthSpark Challenge for Change is back for a second year! Are you up for the challenge?

    When it comes to social change, launching entrepreneurial ventures, and coming up with the next generation of big ideas, we know that nothing matches the creativity and passion of youth. Starting today through March 5, you can enter Microsoft YouthSpark Challenge for Change which is part of Microsoft YouthSpark, our company-wide commitment to create education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for 300 million young people by 2015. Microsoft YouthSpark Challenge for Change asks those aged 18-25 to submit an idea for a social good project designed to spark change in their communities or around the world for the chance to win amazing prizes* including a travel experience to the Amazon and the latest Microsoft products. Entering the contest is easy. Simply answer a few questions about your social good project and how Windows and Office could help you make it a reality.

    Everyone who enters will receive a $10 donation gift card for Microsoft YouthSpark on Global Giving to help you fund and follow social good projects for young people around the world.

    20 Finalists will receive a Surface 2 (or equivalent device) with Office 365 University.

    Five Grand Prize Winners will receive:

    Once the contest entries have been received, our judges will narrow the entries to 20 finalists, who will be revealed on April 15. Then we’ll open voting to the public – everyone can vote for their favorite project once a day until April 22. We’ll announce our five grand prize winners on May 1, which will mark the end of the contest but the beginning of another journey for the winners as they get ready to explore Ecuador and learn about leadership, conservation, biodiversity and rural development issues in the Amazon rainforest.

    We welcome entries from anyone who is thinking of (or already) creating positive change in small or big ways. Your idea may be new and untested, or something you’ve been doing for years. Whatever the idea, we want to hear it! If you’re looking for inspiration, check out last year’s winners and watch the video to see what they’re up to now:

    *No purchase necessary to enter or win. Open to individuals 18 - 25 years of age at time of entry. Contest is void in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and where prohibited. Entry period ends at 11:59:59 a.m. ET (16:59:59 GMT) on March 5, 2014. See full Official Rules for details.

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