Running an ethical business requires an explicit act of giving back to the community and embracing responsible citizenship behavior. At Microsoft, that advice translates to moving beyond the development of own products and services, and actually enhancing the responsibility, commitment through a network of partners like businesses, nonprofits and governments.
The company invites proposals for software donations and maintains a current report on citizenship as a way to inspire more people and entities to follow its example and to take part in its various responsibility programs. In 2014, the company gave out more than one billion dollars in the form of cash donations and in-kind donations. It also completed 217 audits done by third parties to inform its responsible sourcing policy (Microsoft 2015).
Microsoft enjoys a favorable image in the public as an ethical company. Among computer software companies, it is a leader. Recently, the Ethisphere Institute featured the company, Microsoft not only claims to use ethical principles in its strategies and operations, but the company actually introduces best practices in its industry, that other companies follow (Kaelin 2012).
Microsoft follows in the footsteps of its founder, Bill Gates, who successfully launched and ran the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to assist vulnerable communities all around the world. Microsoft embraces a carbon neutral policy, where it actively initiates plans and internal company policies that lead to the overall drop in carbon emissions by its global operations. In addition, Microsoft insists that its supply chain also follows ethical principles. For example, it requires its staffs, and all its partner organizations to uphold human rights as a condition for commercially associating with the company.
In another example, Microsoft recently initiated the Youth Spark initiative. This official corporate social responsibility program provides various philanthropic projects to assist millions of young people around the world who lack economic opportunities. Within the Youth Spark initiative, Microsoft has given one million dollars as grants to assist student in launching business ideas. In addition, it runs an information technology (IT) academy that offers subsidized and free technical skills to needy students in 160 countries (Kaye 2012).
More examples of Microsoft ethical business practices include its goal to empower nonprofits and the inclusion of small-scale community groups and affirmative action groups as part of its supply chain. The company sources, some of its services and products from companies and entities owned by women, minorities and veterans. It also encourages its main suppliers to be socially responsible and requires suppliers to disclose all engagements in the course of making deliveries. Moreover, Microsoft works with developing nations to build community technology centers, which allow citizens in those countries to access digital technology affordably (Kaye 2012).
Microsoft appears to embrace a utilitarian ethical principle where the company champions for the greatest good for a great number of people. Rather than just focus on making sales, it also considers innovative ways of using its technologies to give back to needy communities. It donates skills of its workers, and it offers money in the form of grants to improve skills and to let people gain knowledge that can help them economically and socially. Microsoft also operates as a multinational with a categorical imperative, adopting codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility policies that it hopes the entire software industry would embrace (Hartman & DesJardins 2014).
Hartman, LP & DesJardins, J 2014, Business ethics, decision-making for personal integrity and social responsibility, 3rd edn, McGraw Hill, New York.
Kaelin, M 2012, Microsoft is one of the world’s most ethical companies, Web.
Kaye, L 2012, Microsoft citizenship: Community work on a global scale, Web.
Microsoft 2015, Corporate citizenship, Web.