Empowering people to do great work

On Thursday, Satya Nadella participated in the White House “Champions of Change” event, where President Obama honored individuals who have helped bring about change for working families within their companies, communities or organizations. Nadella introduced the President and spoke about the policy Microsoft recently announced to ensure our suppliers provide 15 days of annual paid time off to their U.S. employees who are doing substantial work for Microsoft.

I have always believed that technology has the potential to help people achieve their dreams and propel businesses and societies forward. I’ve seen this at work firsthand in my own life, in the lives of my family members and in the communities where I’ve lived — from Hyderabad, India, to Chicago, Ill., to Clyde Hill, Wash.

I now have the privilege to lead a team of innovative and passionate people who want to deliver technology that makes a meaningful impact in our world. This is the core of who we are at Microsoft. We aspire to empower every individual and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

We think about the word “empowering” expansively. Empowering everyone means building platforms and products for everyone — small-business owners, researchers, students, professionals, developers, entrepreneurs, people with any ability and people with any income level. It also means investing in the next generation and creating new job opportunities — from inspiring students to pursue careers in computer science to providing IT training for active duty military personnel to enter the civilian workforce.

We have big ambitions, and reaching them starts with empowering the people who work at Microsoft and the people who work on our behalf to bring their “A” game every day. We want people to be healthy and work in an inclusive environment that values diverse perspectives, experiences and backgrounds.

We also realize that a healthy work life extends outside the office walls. Microsoft has long provided industry-leading benefits to employees and their families, including comprehensive health and wellness programs, family care support, paid vacation time, paid sick leave, and paid leave for new parents. Our benefits extend to married couples and partners, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, and are designed to support and respond to the varying needs of our diverse workforce in meaningful ways. Over the past few months, as the national conversation about income inequality and the challenges facing workers and their families has intensified, we began to think more broadly about the people who do work on our behalf.

Like others, Microsoft relies on outside companies that provide us goods and services such as building maintenance, campus security and software localization. As we considered the contributions these individuals make, we concluded that the people who work for our suppliers are critical to our success, and we want them to have the benefit of paid time off.  As a result, last month we announced a policy to ensure that our suppliers provide at least 15 days of annual paid time off to their U.S. employees doing substantial work for Microsoft.

Paid time off is good for business — it’s been shown to lead to increased productivity for workers, improved employee retention and lower healthcare costs.

It’s also good for people and our society — paid time off supports healthier workers and families and stronger family ties. Moreover, lack of paid time off disproportionately impacts low-wage earners and minorities. According to one study, only 49 percent of people in the bottom quarter of earners get paid time off. As an industry and society, we can do more to help everyone reap the benefits of paid time off.

I want Microsoft to be a place where our employees and everyone who works on our behalf can bring their very best every day, and this policy change was the right next step for us. We hope that we can share our learnings and experiences with others and will continue to evolve our company to better serve and delight our customers.

It was a privilege and an honor to participate in the Champions of Change discussion at the White House to share why Microsoft is taking this step — just one in our journey to empower every individual and organization on the planet to achieve more.