Research organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Research
& Goals Paper

Name: Vishrut Bali

Project: Microsoft Social CSR

 

INTRODUCTION

Microsoft:

Microsoft
was founded in 1975 and since then it has become the worldwide leader in
software, services, devices and solutions.

Currently
it is spread over 170 countries with specialty in Operating System, Entertainment
Products, Hardware, Home and Educational Software, Cloud Computing etc.

“Microsoft
is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first,
cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every
organization on the planet to achieve more.”

 

CSR:

CSR
stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. Corporate interests have time and
again shown to have caused harm to the society, be it the local communities,
environment etc.

With
the rise of social awareness and knowledge of the devastating impact created by
various corporate activities from setting up big industrial plants to business
policies only focused on maximizing profit without caring for the well being of
the people and the environment, companies moved their focus from money to
operational impacts on society.

Thus,
came in the need of CSR as a policy not just to help improve the image of
company but defining the company ethics and at the same time helping the
environment/society by incorporating the national and international norms and
ethical standards into their business models.

 

Microsoft CSR:

With
Microsoft, the one thing that they make very clear and state it repeatedly as
part of their goals and mission is the importance of “Empowerment”.

Microsoft’s
goal is to empower the society to achieve its best possible state. Most of the
CSR initiatives from Microsoft promote empowerment and celebrate organizations
and people, who do their bit in empowering others.

Microsoft
CSR works around the citizenship mission of the company which states ” To serve
globally the needs of communities and fulfill responsibilities to the public”.

Microsoft’s
cloud for Global Good was an initiative to deeply engaging local communities
where Microsoft demonstrates its operation of a responsible and inclusive
cloud. It helped local communities experience how Microsoft is a critical part
of the future of technology.

It
also maintains and annually releases a Corporate Social Responsibility report
thus keeping a track on their social activities and their commitment to extend
work for the society and not just their products and services.

This annual reporting thus states clearly how firm and how
committed is Microsoft to work for the betterment of the society. Some of the
milestones as part of their 2017 reports were:

·      
Increasing
accessibility of both Office 365 and Windows 10 for blind and low vision users.

·      
Availability of
broadband connectivity in rural parts of America to eliminate the gap between
rural and urban societies and help billions of people to get affordably online.

·      
Donations in
software and services to non-profits and universities worldwide to promote
skill development helping people to earn a livelihood in their lives.

·      
AI for Earth.

·      
Powering
Datacenters by clean energy for sustainability.

These milestones exhibit that Microsoft is focused on
contributing to the social impact of underserved populations which includes
economic development to support various assets and ownerships of these assets
at grass root communities.

Various other CSR Initiatives in the
Technology Sector

The technology sector has always struggled with ways and
means on how to give back to the society as CSR activities with traditional
manufacturing industries have a very clear picture on the impacts they make
environmentally and on the society as part of the labor force but the same does
not hold true for technology sector.

In the technology space, a vulnerable factory worker is
replaced with that of a well-compensated programmer. Environmental concerns are
confined to reducing carbon emissions. Thus, conventional strategies and
approaches do not fit well with the technology sector.

But latest practices are emerging that are having a positive
outcome as part of the work done by the technology companies towards the
society. Some of the successful applications have been:

·      
Hackathons –

Cloudera, a leading developer of big-data solutions, hosted a
hackathon to support AtrocityWatch,
a nonprofit working to prevent crimes against humanity through crowd sourcing
and data analysis.

·      
San Francisco
Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation has supported pilot projects,
consulting efforts, and software development to improve how city departments
working on transportation and public safety collect and analyze data, thereby
improving their operational efficiency.

·      
Google’s Person
Finder Web Application – permits nonprofits and government agencies to
contribute and receive data. Eg. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Google helped
by sharing the mapping data with the United Nations, NGO’s and other relief
agencies.

These strategies that are being adopted by various technology
industries represent the substantial gain that can be provided and is required
by the social sector as of now and that is of “Data Analytics”. Thereby using
an asset of one sector to tackle a common weakness of the organizations working
in the social sector.

SROI Models

When mentioning strategies
to be used as part of CSR activities, one of the important factor that helps to
predict the feasibility and usefulness of the solution is to study the SROI
model for the same. SROI stands for Social Return on Investment. It is ratio of
impact generated per client, to net cost per client where usually, impact is
the incremental profits from the programs, and net cost is the program
expenditures required minus the earned income from the clients.

But the actual SROI
calculation is based on various models and SROI analysis can take number of
forms.

It can be:

·      
Evaluative, which is conducted retrospectively
and based on actual outcomes that have already taken place.

·      
Forecast, which predicts how much social value
will be created if the activities meet their intended outcomes.

Advantages – It shows net gain in societal resources as a
result of program operation.

Allows comparison of different programs even though they
might be expressed in different units.

Represent program value to whole community rather than a
specific stakeholder.

Disadvantages – Imprecise measures of societal costs and
benefits and inadequate designs. It uses ratios and net values which at times
discard things like capacity, number of participants etc.

Although there are ways and potential solutions to
overcome these disadvantages.

 

Client: Mike Miles

Position – General
Manager – Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations & Datacenter
Community Impact.

One of the
main focus of Mike Miles job is to extend Microsoft’s Corporate Social Responsibility
mission to each Microsoft’s 40+ global datacenter communities. Mike is also
connected with University Of Arizona and is passionate about engaging students
to have a positive social impact. He has handled various projects at University
of Arizona where Microsoft partners with McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship to
help support social innovation by engaging
students in Microsoft’s social impact stories. He has led a class once a month
to work directly with students with focus on developing business plans for
social impact projects at Microsoft Datacenters.

Brief Project Background

Based on the
two concepts of Social Capital and Community Leadership to work on the
engagement models as part of Microsoft and adapt it with their Datacenter
communities.

Ø 
What are current engagement models that reflect how organizations work
together?

Work Engagement Models –
Important to gather knowledge on employee’s performance and well- being at an
individual or team level. If the employee is satisfied at the organization, the
same would be reflected in the work and the thus the organization would work
better. The model proposes team inputs, outputs, and mediators as predictors of
team work engagement and highlights their recursive influences over time.

Employee engagement models – An
employee’s sense of work is positively alignment with the organizational goals.

Community engagement models – An
organization’s mission not just brings in profits but has a positive impact on
the social sector.

This should be
the engagement model of focus as per the scope of the project and some of the
models that are followed under this category are as:

Asset-Based
Community Development (ABCD) –  According
to McKnight and Kretzmann, each community boasts a unique combination of assets
upon which to build its future. Thus this process just focuses on the
strength of a community, their talents and skills and assemble a plan that uses
these strengths to create new opportunities and do well for business.

Association
for Community Health Improvement – In this the work is basically
focused on the improvement of health in the community. Any work to improve
community benefits in clinics, hospitals etc and overcoming any barriers due to
language and cultural differences to provide care for the community population.
This helps in building community health thus in turn having a positive impact
on the datacenters as the community stays healthy.

Cultural
Complementarity – Diverse people working together towards a mutual goal
has a better success rate than a task accomplished separately. Diversity gives
a broader outlook towards any task with a range of ideas thus improving the
result.

Community
Surveys – The needs and views of a large community can be identified
using a short questionnaire which gathers good amount of information on the
views of people. This data can also be compared over time to study changes in
engagement.

The
International Association for Public Participation has developed a spectrum
that covers the various forms of engagement :

Ø 
Can we learn anything from management models
(manager-to-employee / leader-to-follower) that we could expand up on to
serve a benefactor-to-community engagement?

Yes,
one basic principle that a management model like that of a manager-to-employee
or leader-to-follower teaches is that of Accountability.

In a manager-to-employee
/ leader-to-follower relationship, the manager/leader brings in the idea and
the resources to complete a task and it is up to the employee/follower to
implement it with a level of perfection. But in such cases the manager/leader
does not end his/her job there and makes sure the task is performed till the
end with the best of efforts and in case if that does not happen the full
responsibility is taken by them.

This
same model can be expanded into a benefactor-to-community engagement and will
definitely have a positive impact. A benefactor when takes the role of being
accountable and gets that sense of responsibility, he/she will have personal
connect with the community thus thinking more as per community requirements and
hence improving the social benefit outcome.

Ø 
How would you assess a community to different engagement models?

The
factors that account for the success of community engagement/building community
support are:

Organizing
for ownership – Engagement of community members should always happen before the
planning of an initiative. With this early engagement from the top as well at
the grassroots there is an incentive to support the initiative so that it can
last for a long term.

Allowing
for Complexity – Sometimes a solution can be based on a single thought process
that might have worked at a time but there are always a lot of factors within a
community which shouldn’t be neglected.

Working with
local institutions – At times its necessary to move funds from one region and
this may cause harm to the community in future. Therefore it’s always
encouraged to work with existing local companies.

Building
momentum – Achieving significant result in 1-2 years is always a challenge and
can lead to building of resistance for the initiative. This can be handled by working
for quick wins to keep the momentum.

Assessment of
an engagement model is very crucial and one of the methods to do it is using
VOiCE (Visioning Outcomes in Community Engagement) an innovative IT tool which
can evaluate an engagement activity. VOiCE is published by the Scottish
Government for use in Scotland as part of its support for implementation of the
National Standards for Community Engagement.

Feedback can
be one of the best method to evaluate an engagement model. Continuous feedback
from those directly affected under the engagement model and then reiterating on
the engagement model can increase the chances of success.

Thus, with respect to our scope to
propose socio economic measurements, the above researched data can be used to
build upon the engagement models to use, how to achieve better success and some
of the factors to evaluate such models to help better them in future.

GOALS

Project Goals:

The
goal of the project is to propose socio economic measurements (or ways of gathering
them) that lead to social capital and community leadership values.

The
Datacenter Community Development team will use these learnings in to decide the
pace and approach of our work in our culturally and socio-economically diverse
datacenter communities.

The
eventual goal would be to produce a Social Capital and Community Leadership
“rating” or “level”.

Personal Goals:

·      
Corporate Culture

Gaining
experience of the corporate culture of US within the next 3 months. Having
worked in various organizations in India, the differences in the approach to
work here in US would be a great experience.

 

·      
Methodologies

Learning
the methodologies adopted as a Consultant working for one of the biggest
technology firm like Microsoft.

 

·      
Understanding Team Dynamics in a consulting firm
working on a technology related project.

 

·      
I will incorporate the CSR related knowledge and
try and utilize these practices at ground level with various NGO’s and bridge
any gap between the understandings.

 

·      
The outcome of the project should at least
positively impact one social organization.

 

·      
Time Management

Working
under pressure of producing results within stipulated deadlines.

 

·      
Creating up to the mark presentations and
conveying the idea to the client as clearly as possible on an individual level.

 

·      
Creating a healthy work atmosphere as part of
the team to increase productivity.

 

·      
Documentation of the work done in an organized
manner as part of a knowledge repository.

Thus, in all,
learning the traits of becoming a successful consultant.

 

 

References:

Facts About Microsoft

Microsoft Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): a brief overview

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/what_does_corporate_social_responsibility_mean_for_the_technology_sector

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/measuring_social_return_on_investment_before_you_invest

http://socialvalueint.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/The-SROI-Guide-2012.pdf

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy2.library.arizona.edu/doi/10.1111/joop.12057/abstract

http://www.health.state.mn.us/communityeng/intro/models.html

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/community_engagement_matters_now_more_than_ever

https://www.communityplanningtoolkit.org/sites/default/files/Engagement.pdf

https://www.eller.arizona.edu/press-release/21apr2017/ua%E2%80%99s-mcguire-center-entrepreneurship-and-microsoft-announce-annual-social

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemiles-msft/

http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy1.library.arizona.edu/science/article/pii/S014971891630249X?via%3Dihub