The students should identify a CSR initiative that a company has launched in their own country, in the UK, or abroad. Examples of such initiatives include: measures adopted to avoid child labour in the company supply chain; programmes to tackle employee discrimination; policies to curb carbon emissions; and anti-corruption policies. When deciding on the topic, it is important to consider whether there is sufficient information in the public domain about the initiative and the associated issue.
Each assignment should have the following sections:
A critical description of the initiative. This section should describe the initiative as to its aims, main components, and actors involved, along with some clarification of the issue to which it is being applied. Any links to associated relevant global initiatives should also be examined. The section is mainly assessed on the basis of the number and quality of sources used to describe the initiative, and associated links. It is therefore important to verify any information provided by the company through the review of alternative sources of data including reports by non-governmental organisations.
Theory-based evaluation of the initiative. This section involves an evaluation of the CSR initiative based on a suitable theoretical framework (e.g. stakeholder analysis). The theoretical framework should be briefly explained and then evaluated as to its main strengths and criticisms. It should then be correctly applied to shed light on how the initiative succeeds in meeting its objectives and other goals of corporate social responsibility. The marks in this section are given for correct and insightful application of the theoretical framework.
Comparison with another company/organisation. In this section the initiative should be compared and contrasted with how another company has approached a similar issue. The purpose of the section is to evaluate company practice on the basis of best practice. Marks will be allocated for thorough and astute analysis.
A set of conclusions and recommendations. The final section should be based on the preceding analysis and provide a view on how successful the initiative has been and how to proceed with it in the future. The marking of the section will be based on the clarity and insightfulness of the arguments presented.
CSR activities of Microsoft
Current generation businesses and social life is highly dependent on technologies. Technology is the key part of keeping the contemporary organizations on their feet. In this technologically driven market, Microsoft emerged as the leading technological giant in the world. They are having diversified product and service portfolio including computer software, hardware, electronic gadgets, operating systems and web browsers. It is being recognized as one of the top renowned brand n the world (Microsoft.com 2017). Windows operating system from Microsoft is the leading operating systems for computers around the world. According to the third quarter of 2017, the total revenue of Microsoft is $89.95 billion. The most promising and revenue generating department of Microsoft is their cloud service accounting for $6.8 billion. A new strategy taken by Microsoft regarding their business expansion is strategic acquisitions. In the recent years, Microsoft has acquired Skype and LinkedIn for diversification-.
Being such a large and renowned organization, Microsoft also supports extensive activities of corporate social responsibilities. They have implemented several activities for corporate social responsibilities around the world in different fields (Tai and Chuang 2014). This report will discuss about the activities of corporate social responsibilities of Microsoft with the use of different analytical tools to determine the effectiveness of their strategies. In addition, this report will throw light on the strategies of Microsoft through which they have aligned their activities of corporate social responsibilities with their organizational objectives.
- Microsoft is having different projects regarding their social responsibilities in various regions around the world. They have solar projects in Nigeria (Microsoft.com 2017).
- They provide cloud service to Temenos to reach to the remote area in Myanmar to offer banking facility.
- Microsoft has initiated empowerment program for the remote people of Africa by providing them training and skill developing.
- They also have a program name YouthSpark which aims to provide education and employment opportunities to more than 300 million youths around the world.
- Microsoft provided to 99 percent of their employees regarding the training for standards of business conduct (Microsoft.com 2017).
- They also have effective employee feedback program to note the issue faced by the employees.
- Microsoft has issued a commitment of following United Nations Global Compact.
- They are adhering to Global Human Rights Statement.
- 44 percent of the electricity used by them is from the renewable source of energy which includes wind, solar and hydro.
In implementing and driving the activities of corporate social responsibilities, Microsoft maintains a separate team known as Business and corporate responsibility. They are the part of corporate affairs of the organization. This team directly reports to the president and Chief Legal Officer (Microsoft.com 2017). It shows the importance given by them regarding their social responsibilities. Other actors involved in this process include the NGOs with whom Microsoft works. Communities where they work and the employees of the organization are also included as the important stakeholders in accomplishing the social responsibilities.
Microsoft promotes extensive use of renewable energy in their daily operations. They are the largest buyer of wind power by purchasing 237 megawatts of wind energy in 2016 (Microsoft.com 2017). More and more of their offices and data centers are being covered under the renewable source of energy. Microsoft is also increasing their investment in constructing the facilities for generating wind and solar energy (Microsoft.com 2017). This is one of the prominent differences from other global organizations. Majority of the global organizations are mainly buying renewable energy from other third party vendor (Twidell and Weir 2015). It seems an easy way to maintain their social responsibilities without being investing much in the generation projects. However, the approach of Microsoft in this case is totally different from the others. According to them, investing and building own power generation projects have more implications on the society than buying it from outside. Moreover, with the growing market of renewable energy, it can prove as an opportunity in the future.
Actors involved in the activities
Triple bottom line analysis refers to the three basic areas of concentration of the organizations. It includes social, environmental and economic aspects which organizations consider in their goals and objectives (Gimenez, Sierra and Rodon 2012). In this report, it will be used to determine these three aspects of Microsoft.
Microsoft considers their employees as asset and continuously providing training and skill development programs to enhance their capabilities. As earlier discussed, Microsoft maintains ethics regarding their human rights according to the principles stated by the United Nations (Donnelly 2013). Thus, issues related to gender discrimination, gender inequality and employee abuse is hardly occurs in the organization. Corporate social responsibilities of Microsoft also include welfare of their employees along with their families. In the case of using renewable energy, Microsoft provides electricity generated from solar and wind to the remote villages in Nigeria and some other African countries. Schools and hospitals are being provided with electricity in those areas.
The prime motive of generating renewable source of energy of Microsoft is to reduce their organizational impact on the climate. Climatic change is directly related to their business. This is due to the reason that climatic change will reduce the business opportunities for them and will have adverse impact on the revenue chart. Microsoft is gradually decreasing their carbon footprint from their operations (Laurent, Olsen and Hauschild 2012). Since 2012, the global operations of Microsoft are carbon neutral. They have also introduced the concept of carbon fee. According to this concept, each of the departments of Microsoft is responsible for the emission and control of the carbon. They have to pay penalty or price in case of exceeding the organizational standards. It also helped them to infuse the concept of environmental awareness among all internal stakeholders of the organization.
Economic objectives of the organization are the primary motive of operating businesses. All the aspects of the organizations are dependent on the revenue and profit being earned by the organization (Pahle, Pachauri and Steinbacher 2016). In the case of Microsoft, it is being already discussed that they are one of the leading organizations in the world with having huge revenue generation. The business revenue of Microsoft however gets reduced this year when compared to 2015. In 2015, they earned $93.6 billion compared to $89.95 billion this year. However, the market expansion of Microsoft is favorable as of now. This is due to the reason that they are entering in to new diversified businesses.
Use of renewable energy by Microsoft
Though with the help of triple bottom line analysis, the key objectives of the organizations can be determined, however, there are few limitations with this model. The main issue with this model is the difficulty in measurement of the aspects. The social and environmental aspects of the organization are difficult to measure due to the reason that it does not have any materialistic outcome like the economical aspects. Thus, the evaluation of these aspects through triple bottom line analysis may not provide the accurate result (Tullberg 2012). Moreover, the social responsibilities of the organizations depend on the external environments where they are operating. The legal framework and the social culture are the key factors which influence the social activities of the organizations. Thus, it is quite difficult to analyze the effectiveness of the organizations by determining the social and environmental aspects of the organizations.
Stakeholder analysis helps to determine the influence, power and interest of the associated stakeholders with the organizations (Missonier and Loufrani-Fedida 2014). It is important to keep track of the stakeholders of the organization to identify their requirements and expectation which is required to implement new organizational policies.
- Board of directors
- Non-profit organizations
Board of directors and the higher management are the group of stakeholders having the most power and influence in the organization such as Microsoft with having the most active and passive interest in the organizations. They can influence the operation of the organizations with their implemented strategies and policies. Moreover they have the most power in decision making process (Goetsch and Davis 2014). On the other hand, they are one who will be affected by the organizational failures. The higher management of Microsoft will be the most affected if the organization incurs loss in the market. This will lead to their job loss or salary deduction. Social activities of Microsoft provide them a favorable environment in having decision making process. The reputation and goodwill of the organization get increased in the society due to their social commitment.
Employees are also one of the important stakeholders for Microsoft. As earlier discussed, Microsoft considers their employees as asset. Employees are also having moderate influence in the organization with their respective skills in their job roles. In implementation of the corporate social activities of Microsoft they play an important role in converting the chosen strategies in work (Costas and Karreman 2013). From the perspective of interest, employees are having interest in their salaries, working environment and the perquisites what they are gaining from the organization. Organizational failures may cause adverse effect on the job structure of the employees.
Triple bottom line analysis
Shareholders are also having moderate influence in the organization as they have the voting rights in the decision making process of the organization. They can influence the board of directors in taking decisions. They do not any active interest in the organizations; however, they have passive interest as they will earn more return and dividends if the organization earns profit in the market (Ayuso et al. 2014). Partners and customers are also being considered among the stakeholders of Microsoft due to the reason that partners such as suppliers and retailers are having great influence in marketing the products of Microsoft (Hui, Klasa and Yeung 2012). Through them, Microsoft will sales their products in the market and helps to generate positive word of mouth. The interest of partners and customers are there but it is diminishing in nature due to the presence of various competitors in the market.
Competitors are also having influence in the operations of Microsoft as they are increasing the competition in the market which led to change in the decision making process of Microsoft. They are also holding some sort of interest with the operations of Microsoft. It is due to the fact that, the extent to which the social activities of Microsoft are positively influencing the brand image is the extent to which the competitors are getting trailed behind in the competition. Non-profit organizations and governments are also an important stakeholder in implementing the corporate social benefits of Microsoft (Warburton 2013). Microsoft has the partnership with various NGOs around the world for charities and community development. They are also assisting various governments in implementing the social development strategies. Government and NGOs are not having direct interest in the organization without having the financial and technological support. However, the influence of government is high due to the reason that the legislation of the government will determine the extent to which Microsoft has to drive their social responsibilities (Zhao 2012).
Being analyzed the corporate social responsibilities of Microsoft, let compare these activities with another company being known for their sustainability policies. The main competitor with whom Microsoft is having neck to neck competition is Google. Google is also a technology giant originated in United States and operating in the same sector of Microsoft. They are posing stiff challenge to Microsoft in terms of products and social responsibilities. The operating system of Google, Android is rapidly eating out the market share of windows of Microsoft. In terms of social responsibilities also, Google is having extensive welfare policies for their employees (Tansel and Gazioglu 2014). Google is known for their treatment to their employees. They are one of the most sustainable and attractive employer in the world.
While Microsoft is providing attractive perks and compensation to their employees, Google is working on changing the working scenario for their employees by implementing various innovative ideas in the internal environment (Babatunde and Adebisi 2012). Microsoft is working on increasing the use of renewable source of energy in their data centers, while Google has already implemented technologies which help them to consume 50 percent less energy in comparison to the conventional data centers. Google itself purchases 24 percent of their renewable energy. Google’s own solar power stations generates 3 million kilowatt of solar energy. Microsoft became carbon neutral organization in 2012 whereas, Google made it by 2007. However, the percentage of using the renewable source of energy of Microsoft is more than that of Google (Twidell and Weir 2015). Microsoft use 44 percent of renewable energy in their daily operations whereas, Google employs 35 percent of renewable energy. Much like the Microsoft, Google is also employing their technologies in bringing change in the environment. They are using their Google earth technology in measuring the air pollution.
- Microsoft has taken the strategy of generating the renewable energy rather than purchasing it. However, generating involves much time and money than purchasing. Thus, Microsoft can purchase renewable energy along with generating. It will help them to effectively fill the gap of using more renewable source of energy (Twidell and Weir 2015).
- Though Microsoft is having effective employee welfare policies. However, another way of enhancing the existing policy is to train and employ the people from backward communities and remote areas. It will help in empowering the community to a broader extent (Ansari, Munir and Gregg 2012). Moreover the welfare policies can be more effectively implemented.
- E-waste is one of the key contemporary issues at present (Sthiannopkao and Wong 2013). Thus, Microsoft should come up with the products which are having less or zero ingredients which will harm the environment. More eco-friendly products will help to further enhance the quality of the environment.
Having analyzed the corporate social responsibilities of Microsoft, it can be concluded that they are having an effective policies regarding their social commitment. They are having diversified areas of operations in social development. Their social activities include employee welfare, environment benefits and community development. Moreover, generation of renewable source of energy is another prime focal area of the environmental aspect of Microsoft. Stakeholder analysis is being done to conclude the associated stakeholders of Microsoft. It is been seen that majority of the stakeholders of Microsoft are being involved in some extent in implementation of their social responsibilities. However, a few recommendations are being given to guide the further development of their social activities. It will help them to implement their activities regarding the social responsibilities more effectively in the future. It can also be concluded that, with the effective implementation of the social activities by Microsoft, the brand image and identity will increase in the market. It will help them in targeting their potential customers more effectively and expanding their market in untapped regions.
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