Microsoft is one of the world’s top fortune 500 companies according to fortune.com and comes in with a rank of number 30 on the list with a total revenue of 89.95 million in revenue for 2018.(fortune) Microsoft is an American multinational technology company that develops, manufactures, and sells everything from computer software, consumer electronics, online services, and personal computers. Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975, and has since grown to become one of the most recognized brands in the world. Some of the company’s most popular products and services are Microsoft Office, Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Outlook, Skype, Xbox, Windows phone, Bing, One drive, Office 365, and Xbox live to name a few.
As far as Microsoft goes with its sustainable initiatives, we can start with how the company is a big advocate of carbon footprint reduction and how they understand why it is important to create a cleaner environment and habits for generations to come. Microsoft hopes to achieve reduced carbon footprints for all of its employees and provides a number of ways to allow employees to make more sustainable choices. Providing ways for employees to work from home to help reduce commuting and gas emissions, and also having recycling programs are just a couple of the ways microsoft encourages a greener lifestyle for employees. According to Walter Wang from cleantechies.com Microsoft also purchases renewable energy, builds all new buildings in accordance to LEED standards as listed by the United States Green Building Council, and requires all suppliers to agree to a set code of environmental and social conduct.
Another sustainable initiative of Microsoft’s is managing the company’s energy consumption. The Microsoft IT department created something called a System Center Configuration Manager as well as much better power management controls on almost 160,000 desktop and laptop computers being used by employees on a daily basis.(clean) The outcome yielded a 27% decrease in energy usage from computers and desktops and will only continue to help decrease the use of power in the many years to come. Additionally microsoft can continue to reduce energy usage in the company through the built-in power management features available from almost all Microsoft products. For example Windows 7 can aid in decreasing power consumption and enhancing user experience by providing processor and platform efficiencies.(clean) All of these sustainable practices and solutions coupled with energy smart buildings, more sustainable packaging, and reducing traveling with something called Microsoft Unified Communications, helps the company implement and promote a more sustainable environment and mentality for both employees and consumers alike.
Usually when considering the relationship between customer cost and sustainability of products, we normally think that for a product to be more environmentally suitable that it means it will most likely end up costing us more as consumers. For Microsoft, customer cost and sustainability are both major concerns of the company however, and microsoft is constantly on a mission to find newer and better materials and ways to incorporate both environmentally friendly products and affordable cost for their customers. For example, the packaging used for the Windows 7 that microsoft released was made from a material called paperboard that came from sustainably managed forests and could be easily recycled. This material also comes with a low price tag ensuring not to break the bank of the consumers along with many other products provided by Microsoft with the same thought process in mind.
Another important aspect of sustainability for microsoft is not only ensuring that the creation process and materials used are sustainable, but also that when the consumer ultimately gets their product that it continues to not do any damage to the environment and has ways to help each customer or business remain sustainable and green as well. An example of a solution to customer sustainability is microsoft’s cloud network. Microsoft’s cloud services help reduces carbon footprints by minimizing technology infrastructure, sharing applications, and by improving the efficiency of data centers.(cleantechies) Microsoft even conducted a study to find out just how much the cloud services can impact its users and their businesses or daily lives. According to the environmental sustainability page of microsoft, this study found that when larger businesses switched and began to use microsoft’s cloud solutions, that the network can help reduce the energy use and carbon emissions by more than a measured 30 percent when compared to their previous system of applications.(microsoft) Surprisingly, the benefits are more mind blowing when the cloud services are utilized by smaller businesses. Microsoft states that Energy use and emissions can be reduced by more than 90 percent with a shared cloud service.
This is all due to a few major reasons that help explain why the cloud computing system can so drastically help to lower energy and carbon emissions from just this technology. The first reason is something called dynamic provisioning, which is explained by microsoft as a process that helps reduce wasted computing resources through a better matching of servers and their capacity. Next is a term called multi tenancy, which is used to explain the way that the cloud uses one mainframe and one shared infrastructure to help run, organize, and store all the information needed of multiple different organizations and user all in one shared place. Another term used to explain why the cloud network is more environmentally efficient and sustainable is server utilization. This is more self explanatory than the other reasons and is considered to be more green because of how the cloud is able to operate its servers at much higher rates with more of an information load because of advances in the technology in this specific field. Lastly, the cloud is able to maintain such an eco friendly boost from previous software because of data center efficiency. This process utilizes new advances in data center programs that help to eliminate power loss through better cooling and power surveillance and conditioning.(microsoft)
Another main topic of sustainability is communication, and as previously stated, Microsoft utilizes this method to reduce individual travel and increase collaboration through a process named Microsoft Unified Communications. What this process does is reduces the need for commuting or business travel by allowing employees to work from home and effectively communicate with and stay connected to anyone and everyone they would need to in a normal day on the job. This process has also been known to improve business outcomes work ethic and aid with environmental sustainability while also reducing costs. In the last year, Unified Communications helped Microsoft save on 17,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and reduced overall travel costs by more than $90 million.(microsoft)
Convenience is also a big determining factor of sustainability in our society today and often times if something is convenient for consumers, it doesn’t matter all that much to the mass majority of the public how environmentally friendly it is. Luckily, Microsoft is constantly working to find new and creative ways to make their products and services both convenient and sustainable for the general public. Whether microsoft is concerned with the ease of updating to the cloud network for the environmental purposes, uploading something new to the cloud from any device, or even if it’s just about how to make it easier on their employees and their commute to work and the emissions that would create, microsoft has stated numerous times that they are committed to making a positive environmental impact around the globe through their products and services. In the last 5 years alone, the company has provided 50 million dollars to make it easier to help get the advanced technology of the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) tools into the hands of the visionaries working hard to aid and continue to solve the world’s environmental hardships.(microsoft)
Microsoft is also a company that is very conscious of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and sets out plans and steps to take to help achieve them as a major fortune 500 company. Out of the 17 SDG’s that the UN wants to work on to address the global challenges we face, Microsoft has narrowed it down to 8 goals that the company can effectively focus on and prioritize their efforts for. In a comprehensive report from september 2017, titled Microsoft and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, microsoft talks about plans and how their technology is already being put in motion to help achieve some of these sustainability goals. Starting with the third SDG of promoting good health and well-being, microsoft is a huge contributor of important technologies and programs such as Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Microsoft cloud, and Cortana Analytics Suite to a number of healthcare providers, hospitals, and nurses and doctors that help specifically with achieving some of the goals stated in the SDG’s.() These technologies help with things such as organizing the distribution and application of vaccines for tuberculosis, providing lifesaving help to new born babies affected with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and even projects and research to help track and eliminate mosquitoes that are carrying the zika virus and stop it from spreading.
The next SDG that microsoft focuses on that they mention in the 2017 SDG report is the quality education goal to help empower teachers and students create and share information and learning in a whole new scope. Examples of how their technology is helping in this field can be shown by the Microsoft developed Minecraft Education Edition, and the use of popular applications in the classroom such as Skype, Microsoft Azure for online classes and teaching, Microsoft OneDrive for assignment and document organization, and other useful tools like Power BI to help education be easier to access than ever before.() Microsoft is also a huge supporteer of SDG number 5, which revolves around gender equality. A prime example of this is Microsoft’s Make What’s Next Campaign and how it educates girls about female inventors and encourages them to pursue careers in science and technology.() Another main way Microsoft is trying to help achieve the gender equality SDG is through a program called Girls Who Code, a US NGO focused on closing the gender gap in technology with after school coding clubs and a 7-week summer immersion program for girls.()
The next SDG that Microsoft is extremely focused and constantly creating new solutions for is SDG number 13 about climate action. Since July 1, 2012, Microsoft has achieved carbon neutrality across global operations, spanning more than 100 countries, for our data centers, software development labs, offices, business air travel, and Microsoft-owned manufacturing operations.() The company is also working on something called Microsoft CityNext Sustainable Cities, that help improve upon entire cities’ sustainability and eco friendly processes such as energy and water consumption, building energy management, cleaner transportation, and resource efficiency. An example of this and efforts to meet SDG number 11 as well can be shown by the city of Seattle’s Smart Building program that is helping to reduce energy consumption by 25% through the use of cloud based systems and solutions.
On a more general level, Microsoft is working to achieve SDG 16 and the challenges we face with peace, justice, and creating strong institutions. Microsoft has plans in motion to team up with other organizations in the public and private sector to create awareness for social issues like human trafficking and the unfortunate situation of refugees, and how these organizations can work together to create solutions for these serious long term issues. A perfect example of how microsoft has been aiding these large scale issues is through its philanthropic efforts and the $30 million in technology and cash donations they provided to emergency response efforts and organizations serving refugees and people who are left homeless including Mercy Corps, CARE, the International Rescue Committee, and NetHope.() From an internal perspective, Microsoft has company policies and procedures in place to ensure the prevention of any corruption or bribery within the company that could be helpful for other organizations to utilize as well.
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