CSR reports are, by their nature, focused inward. At their best, they describe a company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges and accomplishments, which for many large global companies are substantial. But CTRL+F for “we” and you’ll realize quickly how repetitive this game can be. A laundry list of accomplishments can read as tone-deaf when compared to the crises happening outside the door. If the last year has taught us one thing, it’s that the big issues are interconnected. Global connectivity laid the groundwork for COVID-19 to spread rapidly and also contributes to the climate crisis. Longstanding systematic racism and racial violence fueled social unrest after George Floyd’s murder, but economic insecurity and cabin fever from the pandemic added fuel to the fire. Systemic change is the key to addressing climate change, and systems thinking is the only way to get us there.
That’s why I was so inspired to read the opening to Microsoft’s recent 2020 Environmental Sustainability Report. While the report, like all good CSR reports, covers progress on goals, the framing of Microsoft’s approach to the challenges is different from any other CSR report I’ve seen in recent years. The 2021 outlook from Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa opens with, “For Microsoft to do well, we need the world to do well.” Many companies share a similar recognition and sentiment. Microsoft explains its theory of social change, and how the IT giant will move the levers it has at its disposal to make this change possible. Continue reading “Microsoft Moves from “Me” to “Us” in Recent Environmental Sustainability Report”