Microsoft has published its news release in advance of its December annual shareholders meeting. The board of directors of the business urges shareholders to reject two motions calling for official investigations into Microsoft’s military contracts.
The ethics of the way the US government exploits Microsoft’s technology are addressed in proposal number four, which was put out by Boston Common Asset Management and Impact Investors. The possible effects of participating in the creation of weapons for the US military are mentioned in proposal number five, put out by Harrington Investments. Microsoft workers have openly expressed their opposition to participating in military contracts in both proposals.
Concerns about Microsoft’s HoloLens technology in the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) and the company’s proposal to the Department of Defense for a 10-year, $10 billion contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) are raised in proposal four. Employees objected to both of these contracts through open letters, but it seemed that no one was listening.
The board responded to concerns about invasions of privacy, breaches of civil and human rights, and inconsistencies with Microsoft’s own CSR commitments by announcing it will “engage in discussions with the country’s institutions,” including Congress and the military. The board’s unclear answer to staff complaints was that it respected each person’s perspective. “We have a system that ensures that people who have such concerns can raise them, and we work with theme to the extent feasible to address their concerns,” it said.
Despite calling for a probe into Microsoft’s reputational and financial threats rather than human rights violations, proposal five was rejected for the identical grounds as proposal four. The board reaffirmed its commitment to continuing to provide technology to the military and to the company’s partnership with them.
The shareholders meeting on December 13 will be the last opportunity for final judgement on the proposals. As soon as further information on this matter becomes available, we’ll keep you informed.