Microsoft Corporation’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy is founded on a number of international concerns regarding the computer hardware and software business. Archie Carroll developed the corporate social responsibility model to highlight the mutual influence among stakeholders and businesses. In Microsoft’s case, stakeholders include persons and groups with significant interest in how the company performs and interest in the impact of its computing products. As a major player in the global market, the firm must maintain an evolving corporate responsibility strategy to ensure that corresponding programs satisfy stakeholders’ interests and enhance brand and corporate image.
Using a continuously improving corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, Microsoft Corporation addresses stakeholders’ interests that significantly impact the business. The company satisfies such interests through appropriate corporate citizenship programs based on international standards and guidelines.
Microsoft’s Stakeholder Groups & CSR Initiatives
A variety of stakeholders and their interests impose a wide scope of issues on Microsoft Corporation. However, the company focuses on the most significant interests through its corporate social responsibility initiatives, which emphasize human rights, environmental sustainability, and business transparency. The following are the major stakeholder groups significant in Microsoft’s business, arranged according to the company’s prioritization in its CSR strategy:
- Customers (highest priority)
Customers (Top-Priority Stakeholders). Considering Microsoft’s business growth needs, customers are the top-priority stakeholder group in the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy. These stakeholders are mainly interested in reasonably priced effective products, along with high quality customer service. These interests significantly influence the company in terms of customer retention and related sales revenues. Microsoft’s corporate responsibility approach satisfies these interests through innovation to provide advanced computer hardware and software products to customers. In addition, feedback systems enable the company to address customers’ complaints and issues encountered in using the products. To further satisfy the interests of this stakeholder group, Microsoft offers discounts to some customers. For example, students and veterans can purchase the company’s computing products at discounted prices. These discounts are also implemented as part of Microsoft’s marketing mix. Thus, Microsoft’s corporate social responsibility strategy effectively satisfies the concerns and interests of customers as the most significant stakeholder group.
Employees. Human rights are among the main thrusts in Microsoft’s corporate social responsibility programs. As such, employees are the second-priority stakeholder group in the company’s CSR approach. The interests of employees are competitive compensation, as well as fair labor and employment practices. These stakeholders are significant because of their direct effect on Microsoft Corporation’s organizational performance through human resource competence and productivity. To satisfy employees’ interests, the company’s corporate responsibility strategy involves highly competitive compensation along with continuous improvement in employment practices to protect workers’ rights. For example, Microsoft offers high salaries for qualified workers, in order to compete with technology firms like Apple (Read: Apple’s Corporate Social Responsibility & Stakeholders). Also, Microsoft maintains training and leadership development programs to address workers’ interests in the computer technology business. These CSR programs support human resource improvement while increasing morale and competence among employees. Based on these initiatives, Microsoft’s corporate social responsibility strategy satisfies the interests of employees as a major stakeholder group.
Communities. Communities are among the major stakeholder groups in Microsoft’s corporate responsibility strategy, considering that the company includes environmental sustainability as one of its CSR thrusts. Communities are interested in corporate support for development, such as through livelihood programs and environmental protection. These stakeholders are significant because they affect Microsoft’s corporate and brand image. For example, customers use community impact as a criterion in evaluating brands. In its corporate social responsibility strategy, Microsoft uses a number of programs, including discounts for students, military personnel and veterans, as well as donations and assistance through Microsoft Philanthropies. Such discounts increase the accessibility of the company’s products for students, military personnel and veterans. On the other hand, Microsoft Philanthropies provides grants and donations for deserving nonprofit organizations with programs that support community development, such as education and youth support programs. Moreover, the emphasis on environmental sustainability in its corporate social responsibility strategy represents Microsoft’s commitment to minimize the environmental impact of its business. For example, the company maintains its carbon neutral status through the use of smart packaging and renewable energy, as well as renewable materials for its computer technology products. Thus, Microsoft’s corporate social responsibility strategy satisfies this stakeholder group’s interests and fulfills the company’s aims as a corporate citizen.
Investors. Microsoft identifies transparency as one of its main thrusts in its corporate social responsibility strategy. In this regard, investors are among the main stakeholder groups in the computer hardware and software business. Investors affect Microsoft through the availability of capital. The interests of these stakeholders are business growth and accurate financial reporting. Microsoft’s corporate responsibility efforts satisfy these interests through a variety of disclosures about the business, thereby benefitting investors. For example, these CSR initiatives enable investors to make better decisions about the company. The firm’s business stability also addresses investors’ interest regarding business growth. These initiatives show that Microsoft’s corporate social responsibility strategy satisfies the interests of investors as a significant stakeholder group.
Governments. Microsoft’s corporate social responsibility approach considers governments as stakeholders in the business. This stakeholder group is significant because they directly influence the company’s limits in doing business. Governments are interested in Microsoft’s legal and regulatory compliance, as well as contributions to economic growth. The company satisfies these interests through stringent measures in the organization. For example, Microsoft’s corporate guidelines require human resource managers to comply with labor regulations. These guidelines also require compliance with regulations on environmental impact, product safety, and consumer security. These corporate social responsibility efforts indicate that Microsoft satisfies the interests of governments as stakeholders in the business.
Microsoft’s Corporate Social Responsibility Performance in Addressing Stakeholders’ Interests
As a global computer technology business, Microsoft Corporation has taken the necessary steps for a corporate social responsibility strategy that satisfies the interests of its major stakeholders. The company has high performance in addressing its stakeholders. Microsoft’s emphasis on human rights, environmental sustainability and transparency ensure that this corporate responsibility strategy remains relevant to current market conditions. However, an issue typical in large global organizations like Microsoft is the lack of immediate responses to individual customer complaints and inquiries. In this regard, a recommendation is that the company must invest in a larger support community to harness knowledge sharing that can enhance the corporate social responsibility strategy.
- Ditlev-Simonsen, C. D., & Wenstop, F. (2013). How stakeholders view stakeholders as CSR motivators. Social Responsibility Journal, 9(1), 137-147.
- Microsoft Corporation, Form 10-K.
- Microsoft Philanthropies – Empowerment Begins With Inclusion.
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- Military and Veterans Discount Program – Microsoft Store.
- Peloza, J., & Shang, J. (2011). How can corporate social responsibility activities create value for stakeholders? A systematic review. Journal of the academy of Marketing Science, 39(1), 117-135.
- Special Offer for Students – Microsoft Education.
- Werther Jr., W. B., & Chandler, D. (2010). Strategic corporate social responsibility: Stakeholders in a global environment. Sage Publications.