Changes to political giving

Editor’s Note: Today, Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, sent this email to our PAC community.

Last month, in the aftermath of the effort to overturn the Presidential election, we halted political giving to consider the implications of the events. Since that time, we have assessed these issues and over the past two weeks have held six listening sessions with interested employees to have a dialogue and listen. Given the fact that the PAC is funded by voluntary donations from more than 3,000 Microsoft employees, shareholders, and family members, we wanted to accommodate every employee who wanted to participate, in a small group meeting. We’re gratified that approximately 300 employees – both PAC members and non-members – chose to attend.

Today we are sharing details on changes we have decided to make:

First, we will suspend contributions for the duration of the 2022 election cycle to all members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of electors. We will also suspend contributions for the same period for state officials and organizations who supported such objections or suggested the election should be overturned.

Second, we’ve heard from some members of the PAC community who do not want to contribute to political candidates but instead would like to donate to work that will address the issues and policies that are important to the preservation and promotion of democracy. To address this, we will create a new Democracy Forward Initiative to support organizations that promote public transparency, campaign finance reform, and voting rights. We will have more details to share in coming weeks on the creation of this fund and how employees can contribute to it.

Third, we will promote and join a conversation with other businesses and organizations that want to strengthen democracy. Recent events have raised issues of importance to PACs across the business community and companies across the nation, and we believe there is an opportunity to learn and work together.

Finally, while less impactful, some employees felt the current PAC name did not capture the fact that it is funded exclusively by voluntary donations of Microsoft stakeholders – shareholders, employees, and family members – to support Microsoft’s business objectives. We will therefore rename our PAC the Microsoft Corporation Stakeholders Voluntary PAC (MSVPAC).

We believe these steps are appropriate given the importance of these issues for the stability and future of American democracy. They were also broadly supported in the listening sessions and other employee feedback. We do realize that these steps, while significant, will be too much or too little for some employees. There were several other good ideas that arose from our recent meetings, and we will continue to consider other ways we can strengthen the MSVPAC.

Today’s announcement builds on the steps we took in 2019 to add increased transparency through monthly reporting on donations, the creation of an Employee Advisory Council, and criteria on diversity and inclusion. We will continue to listen, learn, and evolve.