Microsoft started off 2020 with a startling announcement: By 2030, the software titan aims to be not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative. By 2050, Microsoft says, it will have negated all of its carbon emissions since its 1975 founding. (Pictured here: Microsoft president Brad Smith, chief financial officer Amy Hood and CEO Satya Nadella on the day of the announcement, Jan. 15, 2020.)
The company is tackling nearer-term crises too. When the world’s focus shifted to the coronavirus, Microsoft responded by offering 25 million people free online training in digital skills such as data analytics, IT, and cybersecurity. It represented a vital lifeline to those whose jobs may never come back—and in particular for women and minorities, who have been hit hardest financially by the pandemic.
That short-term offering is part of a much broader Microsoft upskilling effort. In Africa, for instance, Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative has established training programs to address the continent’s digital skills gap. It’s a good deed, but it isn’t charity: Microsoft sees Africa as a growth market, and 4Afrika is busy signing up customers and spotting new business ideas.