Microsoft deepens longstanding commitment to philanthropy

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 17 December 2015
Microsoft deepens longstanding commitment to philanthropy

In a recent blog post, Microsoft president Brad Smith has announced a new organisation called Microsoft Philanthropies. This reinforces the the company’s expanded commitment to its corporate philanthropy around the world.

This comes following CEO Satya Nadella’s letter to shareholders earlier this year, in which he said: “In the year ahead we will continue to ask ourselves what are the challenges mankind faces, how can technology help, and what is the contribution of Microsoft?”

According to Smith, everyone at Microsoft is challenging themselves to think holistically about the contribution they can make and ask how they can truly bring to life the promise and potential of technology for everyone. “Part of the answer is Microsoft Philanthropies, a dedicated organisation within the company reporting directly to me, which will focus on these issues,” he explains.

“Delivering on our company mission starts with great technology, but great technology alone is not enough. Despite global expansion, increased access, and democratisation of technology, the benefits of technology are not yet reaching everyone in the world.”

Smith outlines the reasons why many people aren’t able to take advantage of the benefits of technology:

  • Poverty limits access to the very tools that can empower people to create a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.
  • A lack of education – especially in STEM disciplines – limits the ability of people to participate in the opportunities created by the growth of the global economy.
  • Accessibility remains a key challenge, with too many people with disabilities encountering barriers to using essential new technologies.
  • People in remote or displaced communities often confront great challenges accessing technology and information when they need it most.

“To fulfill its company mission and truly empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more, we, ourselves, need to do more,” Smith says. “Just as there is an extremely effective commercial ecosystem which brings the promise of technology to life in the marketplace, there must be a strong societal ecosystem that brings the promise of technology to life in the community space, especially where there is the greatest need. Meeting the greatest need requires greater action. And, a recognition that empowerment begins with inclusion.”

Through Microsoft Philanthropies, Smith says that Microsoft will contribute in new and more impactful ways to a societal ecosystem that connects the benefits of technology to those who need it most and work harder to drive inclusive growth of the global economy. “We will strive to bridge gaps within and across communities through more widespread access to technology that enhances the productivity and quality of life for the people of those communities. The opportunity to do this is greater than ever with the power of cloud computing and the potential of data science,” he explains.

To bridge these gaps, Microsoft Philanthropies will invest in digital inclusion programmes and partnerships. “These assets include our strategic societal investments of cash and technology, the technical talents of our employees, our commitment to creative and collaborative partnerships, and the reach and scale of our brand and voice,” says Smith.

“Through Microsoft Philanthropies, we will integrate and leverage these assets to drive greater inclusion and empowerment of people who do not yet have access to technology and the opportunities it offers and enables.  As we do so, we will build on the foundation of Microsoft’s 30 plus years of giving and the insights from our many valued partners and the communities they serve, and seek new ways to achieve greater outcomes for a broader segment of the world’s population.”

To find out more about how Microsoft will be fulfilling its company mission, read Brad Smith’s full blog post here.

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