Investor Advocates for Social Justice

Microsoft Pledges to Improve Lobbying Disclosures in Agreement with Investors

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

November 16, 2022
Advocates withdraw lobbying alignment proposal in consideration of Microsoft’s commitments

Investor advocates have reached an agreement with Microsoft Corporation to withdraw a shareholder proposal requesting evaluation of the company’s lobbying activities, in consideration of a new commitment from Microsoft to advance its disclosures and value-alignment practices surrounding political engagement.

The proposal was submitted in August by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace for Microsoft’s annual 2022 shareholder meeting, calling on the board of directors to issue a public report explaining how the company’s lobbying activities aligned with its principles on vital issues, such as artificial intelligence, human rights and racial justice. In the event of any misalignment, the proposal requested the report include a plan to mitigate risks created by lobbying practices that contradicted the company’s official principles.

To address these concerns, Microsoft has committed to improving public disclosure policies regarding its lobbying engagement to clarify the company’s activities and positions, as well as how they align with company policies. Microsoft also pledged to provide its Environmental, Social, and Public Policy Committee with the opportunity to annually review how the company’s lobbying efforts align with its stated social and environmental values.

After engaging with Microsoft, advocates agreed to withdraw the proposal in light of these new commitments.

“This kind of transparency is vital for investors,” said Courtney Wicks, executive director of Investor Advocates for Social Justice. “A company with Microsoft’s weight in the industry has tremendous political power, and these disclosures will help ensure the company is acting in accordance with its own commitments and its commitments to shareholders.”

“As technology advances, it can be a meaningful tool for protecting human rights, or for infringing upon them,” said Sister Susan Francois, Assistant Congregation Leader of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. “We see this choice play out in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures across the country as they debate online privacy, surveillance, and discrimination. We are encouraged by Microsoft’s dedication to transparency and ensuring its political engagement is in line with its stated human rights principles.”

“When companies agree to listen to investors and craft smart approaches to complicated issues, everybody wins,” said Michael Connor, executive director of Open MIC. “We appreciate Microsoft’s willingness to engage on this proposal to prevent potential misalignment between its policies and lobbying practices, and look forward to seeing these improvements implemented.”

The proposal was previously introduced in 2021, earning a substantial 38 percent of shareholder votes.

For more information, contact:

Courtney Wicks
Investor Advocates for Social Justice

Michael Connor
Open MIC