Changing the World and the Changing Role of Business

Posted by Pamela Passman 
Corporate Vice President

With the launch of Windows 7 last week, Microsoft also launched a contest,7 Ways to Change the World,  which aims to find and fund innovative ways for technology to achieve social change. The seven people who submit the best ideas will each win a PC running Windows 7. And each winner’s chosen community organization will receive a $7,000 grant.

We’re asking everyone to describe their ideas in videos that they post online for everyone else to see. That way, we hope to create something of real value: a library of creative ideas that will help nonprofits find new ways to use technology to be even more effective in delivering services to the most vulnerable in our society.

Last week I had the opportunity to talk a bit about 7 Ways to Change the World at the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) annual meeting in San Francisco. For over 15 years, BSR has helped lead the private sector to become more involved in addressing social, economic and environmental issues. This year’s meeting, coming 12 months after the onset of the financial crisis, naturally became a forum for some of the world’s leading companies to discuss what went wrong and propose new, more sustainable ways of doing business. This was reflected in the theme, “Reset Economy. Reset World.”

The mood was cautiously optimistic. Many participants agreed that the crisis created new opportunities for companies to demonstrate their commitment and social value by more actively participating in reshaping the world. The past year has brought some powerful forces for change: a new U.S. administration, an emerging worldwide resolve to curb climate change and improve energy efficiency, government stimulus investments to jumpstart economies. Companies, including Microsoft, must rise to the challenge. We’re working to do our part – and also create value for our shareholders and customers – by providing technology skills training for unemployed workers and improving the energy efficiency of our data centers, for example.

During a session on Microsoft Citizenship, I discussed our approach. We’re partner driven and focused on helping governments address challenges they have identified as priorities. With nearly 700,000 partner companies worldwide, Microsoft’s business model is founded on helping partners be successful and having a positive economic impact on local economies, as evidenced by the recently released 2009 Global IDC Study on the economic impact of information technology and of Microsoft’s ecosystem. 
Clearly these are challenging times for all of us, and the BSR meeting was perfectly timed to help re-energize the private and public sector. I look forward to sharing more news with you on our efforts.

 

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