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Microsoft Global Human Rights Statement

Information technology is transforming human experiences at an accelerating pace. As technology evolves, it touches lives in new ways. The statement explains how Microsoft is committed to respecting and promoting human rights, to ensure that technology plays a positive role across the globe.

Our commitment

Microsoft is committed to respecting human rights. We respect human rights by seeking to avoid infringing on the rights of others and working to address adverse human rights impacts with which we are involved. Microsoft also commits to promoting human rights. We do this by harnessing the beneficial power of technology to help realize and sustain human rights everywhere.

This statement applies to Microsoft and all its subsidiaries. A statement of commitment to respect human rights is a key element of Microsoft’s responsibility under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Guiding Principles are the authoritative global standard for business and human rights. They have guided and informed this statement and our approach to human rights.

We expect employees, partners, suppliers, customers and governments to share this commitment to ensure that information technology and our business respects and promotes human rights.


Download the Microsoft Global Human Rights Statement in these available languages:

Foundational principles

Our approach to human rights issues is based on:

The power of technology to promote human rights: Technology is increasingly an essential gateway to the enjoyment of human rights everywhere. Governments, civil society, businesses and individuals have a responsibility to apply the power of technology to enable all individuals to achieve their full potential and protect their human rights. Our global public policy supports the use of technology to advance human rights and we are committed to driving technology forward without leaving anyone behind.

The Microsoft On The Issues Blog is a direct line of communication for us to quickly and succinctly provide our perspective on the pressing technology matters of the day. We want to create a transparent dialogue with readers and stakeholders. We want to enhance our participation in discussions that propel policy-making at local, national and international levels.

Good governance and the rule of law: Microsoft supports human rights by promoting good governance and the rule of law around the world. Advancing good governance and the rule of law is an important aspect of corporate responsibility. Both are vitally important to human rights. For example, good governance and the rule of law lead to reliable enforcement of labor and environmental laws and promote justice and national security systems that maintain an appropriate balance between protecting people’s safety and protecting people’s rights from government infringement. Microsoft advocates across the globe for public policies and laws that promote innovation while protecting human rights.

Engagement: We can more effectively respect human rights through our presence in, rather than absence from, countries with significant human rights challenges. Responsible engagement with people and governments in these difficult environments often holds greater promise for advancement of human rights, especially in the medium- and long-term.

Key factors in making this approach a success include the use of a multi-stakeholder engagement, including engagement with local stakeholder groups, using our leverage to influence other primary actors, and undertaking due diligence to identify and mitigate potential human rights impacts.

A global approach: Business approaches to human rights should be based on internationally recognized standards. Microsoft respects the human rights defined in the following declaration and covenants:

Companies have a responsibility to respect all human rights as outlined in the “International Bill of Rights”, which comprises the following three instruments:

- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

As an employer we are also guided by the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work which informs Microsoft to respect principles including the abolition of forced labor and the worst forms of child labor, and to respect labor rights such as non-discrimination and freedom of association.

Our business operations are informed by the human rights guidelines described in the following documents:

We are also members of:

Collaboration with other companies and stakeholders is essential to solving the world’s most pressing business and human rights challenges. Microsoft is a co-founder and participant of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organizations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics collaborating to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector.

We are a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support UN goals. The Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, and Microsoft has been a signatory since 2006.

To put our commitment to women’s empowerment into action, we signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a set of Principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. A collaboration between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Global Compact, the Principles emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women's empowerment.

As a global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company operating in more than 100 countries, we respect all human rights - civil, political, economic, social, and cultural.

Key areas of impact

Microsoft can best meet its responsibility to respect human rights through our work in five key areas:

Our policies and practices on government demands: Our commitment to the rule of law requires us to comply with local law where we do business. When we face requirements from governments to provide user data or remove content, we respect and protect privacy rights and freedom of expression by verifying whether the government demands are valid, binding and otherwise comply with the rule of law. We also assess whether the local law is consistent with international law and international human rights norms.

Our products: As a reflection of our commitment to human rights and to our billions of users, Microsoft seeks to provide products and services that empower everyone, across all abilities, languages, origins or other statuses. Many of our products, including but not limited to Bing, Office, Outlook and Skype foster free expression as an enabling technology, and provide controls to help users protect their privacy. Our products are offered in over 100 local languages. We prioritize accessibility in the design and development of products, using inclusive design principles to meet our commitment of creating and delivering technology that empowers people with disabilities.

Our six key principles to privacy are:

Control: We will put you in control of your privacy with easy-to-use tools and clear choices.

Transparency: We will be transparent about data collection and use so you can make informed decisions.

Security: We will protect the data you entrust to us through strong security and encryption.

Strong legal protections: We will respect your local privacy laws and fight for legal protection of your privacy as a fundamental human right.

No content-based targeting: We will not use your email, chat, files or other personal content to target ads to you.

Benefits to you: When we do collect data, we will use it to benefit you and to make your experiences better.

Our Chief Privacy Officer leads our efforts to respect and protect your privacy.

The implementation of this commitment is led by our Chief Accessibility Officer with the support of leadership throughout Microsoft.

Our partnerships: We are strongest when we work together, so partnerships and multi-stakeholder collaborations are at the heart of our efforts. Respecting the entire spectrum of human rights can be challenging for a business as diverse as Microsoft, which also has billions of globally dispersed rights holders.

Societies across the globe are working to maintain the privacy rights of their citizens as well as to keep their people safe. To help support both goals, Microsoft works in partnership with industry and multi-stakeholder groups. We were early signatories to the United Nations Global Compact and we are a founding member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a collaborative effort among ICT companies, civil society organizations, socially responsible investors, and academics. Microsoft subscribes to the GNI Principles and Implementation Guidelines, which provide practical steps and policies that ICT companies can adopt to respect and advance the freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users.

Our employees: We respect the rights of our employees in accordance with the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Microsoft policies that incorporate these protections include our Equal Employment Opportunity Policy, Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policy, and our Standards of Business Conduct. These policies are complemented by a full range of programs that support the well-being of our employees and their family members, including employee benefits focused on health, personal wellness, parental leave, diversity and inclusion, and education.

Implementation of these commitments is led by our Human Resources team. For more information, please see the Microsoft Standards of Business Conduct.

Our suppliers: Our human rights commitment extends to our thousands of suppliers. All Microsoft suppliers must agree to and abide by our Supplier Code of Conduct, which protects workers’ rights by setting clear standards for ethical business practices, employment practices, and compliance with environmental and worker safety requirements. We apply risk-based approaches for the responsible management of our suppliers, we require all suppliers to complete a mandatory Supplier Code of Conduct training, and we regularly audit them to ensure our Code is being met.

For more information, please see the Microsoft Supplier Code of Conduct, which is available in over 20 languages and dialects, and which explains what we expect from our suppliers and their employees, agents, and subcontractors in labor rights, including preventing human trafficking & child labor, and ensuring non-discrimination, fair compensation, collective bargaining and freedom of association.

Other human rights related issues contained in the Code include business ethics, health & safety, environmental protection and intellectual property.

Through our Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials policy, Microsoft is committed to the human rights, labor, health and safety, environment, and ethics associated with the harvesting, extraction and transportation of raw materials as a global responsibility applicable to all substances used in our products unbounded by specific materials or locations. This commitment includes our efforts working toward the use of conflict-free minerals in our devices. Addressing the most entrenched human rights problems in complex supply chains is a shared responsibility, often requiring industry-wide and multi-stakeholder approaches.

For more information, please see the Microsoft Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials Policy which formalizes our values and approach around upstream responsible sourcing in our hardware and packaging supply chains.

Microsoft and other stakeholders formed the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), to enable and encourage electronic manufacturers, software companies, ICT firms and manufacturing service providers to progress towards a vision of a global electronics industry supply chain that consistently operates with social, environmental and economic responsibility. EICC members seek to address the underlying causes of poor working conditions in the electronics supply chain through worker empowerment programs, training, and efforts to help strengthen rule of law in sourcing countries.

Operational principles

We work to meet our responsibilities to respect human rights by:

  • Embedding respect for human rights throughout Microsoft
  • Clearly stating our human rights policies and advancing these policies through our business operations, practices and programs

    In addition to this Global Human Rights Statement, we have adopted a wide range of policies, across a number of areas that help us meet our commitment to human rights, including: privacy, security, free expression, working conditions in the supply chain, equality, diversity, harmful content, and access to education. You can find these and other policies at our webpage dedicated to human rights disclosure.

  • Conducting due diligence to proactively identify and address human rights risks in our operations, supply chains and business relationships

    Following an initial corporate wide human rights mapping in 2012 to identify salient issues, Microsoft has conducted human rights impact assessments in high risk areas of our business at both the product, market, and functional levels.

  • Proactively engaging directly with stakeholders and rights holders to obtain input to help evolve our approach over time

    With over a billion users, engaging meaningfully with rights holders and their legitimate representatives can be challenging for ICT companies including Microsoft. To better understand this challenge and identify solutions, Microsoft commissioned a report on Rightsholder Engagement in the ICT Sector and conducted stakeholder roundtables around the world.

  • Engaging in public policy discussions on the responsible use of technology by companies and governments across the globe
  • Actively participating in relevant collaborative initiatives, such as the UN Global Compact; the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC); the Global Network Initiative; the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict); and the WePROTECT Global Alliance to End Child Exploitation Online
  • Partnering with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to support their work
  • Communicating annually on the work we are doing to meet our human rights responsibilities through our annual CSR reporting and other channels, including our Digital Trust Reports
  • Ensuring accountability by providing effective grievance mechanisms and access to remedy in situations where Microsoft may have caused or contributed to an adverse human rights impact; and

    Concerns about potential violations can be submitted in the following ways:

    - Submit a confidential report in multiple languages through the Microsoft Integrity Website

    - Send an email to the Microsoft Business Conduct Email Address

    - Call the free Microsoft Integrity Hotline

    - Send a confidential fax to +1 425 708 7177

    - Send a letter to: Office of Legal Compliance, Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052, USA

  • Regularly reviewing and updating our policies, processes and management systems to respond to evolving best practices and stakeholders’ needs

Vulnerable groups: In meeting our commitment to respect human rights, we give special consideration to vulnerable groups such as children, women, and persons with disabilities. We strive to ensure that our technology, business activities, and employment practices are respectful of the human rights of all individuals and empower every person to achieve more, consistent with the relevant human rights defined in the:

Our employment and business activities are guided by the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which outlines women’s rights to equality as employees and product users.

Microsoft’s efforts to operate in the best interests of the child, for example in childhood development and online safety, are shaped by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Children’s Rights and Business Principles framework.

How we create and deliver technology that is accessible and functional for people of all abilities is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Our efforts to ensure people of all abilities have equal opportunity to be employed by our business is shaped by the Convention’s goal of promoting persons with disabilities’ participation in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres with equal opportunities.

Promoting human rights: Going beyond our commitment to respect human rights, we work to foster economic growth and individual opportunity by bringing enabling technologies to billions of people. We promote human rights through partnerships that seek to leverage our leading-edge technology and strength in innovation.

We also partner with law enforcement agencies around the world to protect individuals’ online and physical safety. Through our own initiatives and in partnerships with other stakeholders, we promote human rights by highlighting the principles of:

Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit combines big data analytics, cutting-edge forensics and novel legal strategies to protect your data, keep you in control of personal information, and help keep seniors and children safe online. The DCU is an international team of attorneys, investigators, data scientists, engineers, analysts and business professionals based in 30 countries, all working together to transform the ongoing fight against digital crime.

The DCU works to protect vulnerable populations, fight global malware, reduce digital risk. In particular, the DCU’s PhotoDNA solution remains the leading tool to detect, remove and report still images of online child sexual abuse materials.

  • Good governance
  • Rule of law, informed by consideration of international norms; and
  • Transparency in law enforcement, in protection of public safety, and in other governmental actions

Microsoft donates products to empower nonprofit organizations throughout the world to be successful and reach their full potential. By offering our cloud services and software for free or significant discount to eligible nonprofits, we enable human rights organizations around the world to advance their missions.

Through the Microsoft Philanthropies global donation program, we make products available free of charge to non-profit organizations, including human rights groups and defenders to address social and civic issues.

At times of natural disasters or humanitarian crises, we help impacted communities access technology and information when and where they need it most.

For more information on Microsoft’s support in disasters and humanitarian crises, please click here.

We are committed to closing the opportunity gap that many young people face today through Microsoft programs focused on technology education in underserved and underrepresented communities.

Through a number of programs, including the Imagine Cup, we help young students learn the skills necessary to harness the power of technology. We partner with nonprofit organizations, schools, governments and other businesses in our YouthSpark program to make more computer science education courses, trainings and resources available.

Internal governance: The Regulatory and Public Policy Committee of Microsoft’s Board of Directors is responsible for reviewing Microsoft's corporate responsibility policies and programs including human rights. Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer oversees the implementation of these policies working within the Microsoft Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs division. The Microsoft Technology and Human Rights Center coordinates our efforts to identify, address and report our human rights risks and opportunities, promotes the role of technology in protecting human rights, and fosters dialogue on these issues with human rights experts and stakeholders.