Microsoft Named #1 Best Corporate Citizen in America


Jan 3, 2013
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From: America's 100 Best Corporate Citizens In 2015 - Forbes

Back in the late ?90s, the U.S. Department of Justice made Microsoft out to be a corporate villain, charging it with abusing its monopoly power by bundling its Internet Explorer web browser together with the Windows operating system on Intel-powered PCs. The case ultimately settled but the company also faced charges from the European Commission and as recently as 2013 it was fined $731 million by the European Union for failing to stick to a pledge to stop bundling its browser. Now the editors of Corporate Responsibility Magazine have given Microsoft a seal of approval of sorts in naming it the No. 1 best corporate citizen in America.

As opposed to some of the other lists we cover, like the world?s most reputable companies, which measures consumer perceptions, CR?s list emphasizes what it calls corporate accountability. It also rates company performance in each of seven categories: climate change, employee relations, environmental, financial, governance, human rights, and philanthropy. The categories are weighted, with employee relations and environmental carrying the most heft while governance matters least. Within each category there are subcategories like disclosure, policy and performance. Questions range from ?Do the company?s human rights policies apply to franchisers?? to ?Does the company disclose its total hazardous waste generation??

CR starts with the Russell 1000 of the U.S. companies with the largest market capitalization and then collects data on each company, including sending out an extensive questionnaire which asks companies to verify CR?s initial report. Some 300 companies responded this year. CR narrows the master list to 130 and then whittles further to 100. The whole process takes a year, says Elliot Clark, CEO of CR Magazine, a journal with a circulation of 20,000 published six times a year that?s read by CEOs, CFOs and people who work in corporate human resources and corporate social responsibility departments.

Microsoft makes the top of the list because it?s quite transparent and accountable as far as corporate policies go, says Clark. Especially in the realm of employee relations, the company is ahead of its peers, he says. Microsoft was one of the first to offer flextime and job sharing, family benefits, and bereavement leave. ?This is a company that invests in their employee relations very heavily,? says Clark. Just last month Microsoft announced it would require many of its 2,000 vendors to give 15 days a year of paid days off for sick leave and vacation time. Clark adds that the company has a strong record on human rights and on the environment, making sure its server rooms are as energy efficient as possible. Telecommuting reduces the company?s carbon footprint. On the philanthropic front, it?s a big supporter of STEM education through programs like YouthSpark, which runs code camps and tech competitions for elementary through high schoolers. It also has a huge corporate giving program, matching employee gifts of up to $15,000, and when employees volunteer at a nonprofit, it gives $25 an hour to that organization.

Hasbro, the Pawtucket, RI maker of toys like Play-Doh and Monopoly, in addition to digital games, TV and films, is in the No. 2 slot, rising 20 places from last year. Its environmental commitments include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and landfill waste by 50% by the end of 2020. It also eliminated polyvinyl chloride from all its packaging in 2013. On human rights it monitors the factories that make its products in China, with Hasbro employees on the ground there. Its philanthropic efforts include gifts of $12.8 million in grants and toys in 2014 to organizations like SOS Children?s Villages and Toys For Tots. It also gives employees 4 hours a month of paid time off to volunteer.

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