Gap Score
Microsoft made strides in its sustainability efforts this year by working to close the gap between performance and perception. Most notably, the brand achieved its ambitious carbon neutral goal by charging its businesses a carbon fee in order to offset greenhouse gas emissions, making each of Microsoft’s 14 business divisions across 110 countries responsible for their respective carbon emissions from energy consumption and business air travel. (Part of the technology giant's carbon-neutrality program is supporting a tropical forest conservation project in Kenya.) Investments in renewable energy and carbon reduction projects resulted in a third-place ranking in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Top 50 list of the largest green power purchasers in the US. Additionally, Microsoft has prioritized helping businesses and people move to the cloud to reduce energy use through data center efficiencies and new services such as Office 365. Still, more transparency is needed to better communicate these efforts and boost public and stakeholder perceptions, and more clarity is needed to understand the energy reductions achieved, and how more renewable energy could be used to power their cloud. The brand is taking a more holistic approach to sustainability by weaving sustainable practices throughout its supply chain, its packaging, and even in tools such as the Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics AX to help businesses achieve their own sustainability goals. In addition to recognizing suppliers for supporting its corporate sustainability aims, as it does, Microsoft could use its clout and increase its advocacy for renewable energy through more public-private partnerships and involvement in trade associations—all of which would help the public better understand Microsoft’s positive impact on the environment.