Expanding partnerships and transparency on human rights

As our society becomes increasingly interconnected, it is more critical than ever that we foster a strong relationship between business and the protection of human rights. With that in mind, and in honor of Human Rights Day tomorrow, I am pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with UC Berkeley to further embed human rights in business education, as well as share a positive step forward in Microsoft’s own commitment to transparency with an updated Microsoft global human rights statement.

Over the last decade, Microsoft has made significant strides to advance and reaffirm our commitment to the protection of human rights. These initiatives include joining the UN Global Compact, helping establish the Global Network Initiative, and working to align our company with the UN’s Guiding Principles. We also work with some of the world’s leading human rights organizations to apply the power of technology to promote human rights.

Today, we are building on that work and have released an updated Microsoft Global Human Rights Statement outlining Microsoft’s approach to human rights as we work to ensure that technology plays a positive role across the globe. Key updates to this statement include:

  • Making explicit Microsoft’s recognition that technology is increasingly an essential gateway to the enjoyment of human rights everywhere;
  • Expanding our human rights commitments to encompass the special consideration we give to vulnerable groups such as children, women and persons with disabilities; and
  • Emphasizing the importance we ascribe to championing the rule of law informed by consideration of international norms.

We must continue to work together to ensure basic human rights for every person.

To that end, we recognize that more investment is needed to deepen the connections between the protection of human rights and the core strategy and operations of companies around the world. This is why we are so thrilled to announce our partnership with the Center for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business on the Human Rights & Business Initiative. This initiative aims to integrate key human rights issues such as privacy, inclusion, freedom of expression, education and employment directly into business education. Humanity United, a leading non-profit focused on human rights issues such as forced labor and human trafficking, will also be lending their expertise to the program.

We are excited for the opportunities with this program and the insights we hope to gain from it as we work to expand these efforts in the future. Through education, we can empower the next generation of business leaders around the world with a strong foundation in human rights.

As you may know, Human Rights Day commemorates the day 68 years ago when the United Nations General Assembly first adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What a powerful reminder of our common humanity and the need to stand up for the basic rights of all people.

Working together, we can promote a safer, more free and more inclusive society for everyone – and a better world for the next generation.  We look forward to doing that with you.

About the Author

Vice President & Deputy General Counsel