Microsoft Corp. published its lengthy “Standards of Business Conduct” in May 2003, and released an update in April 2009. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer wrote in an open letter to employees that the standards were devised “to help you make good, informed business decisions and to act on them with integrity.”
Microsoft’s Code outlines six values to guide employee conduct: integrity and honesty; passion for customers, partners and technology; being “open and respectful with others and dedicated to making them better”; a “willingness to take on big challenges and see them through”; being “self-critical, questioning, and committed to personal excellence and self-improvement”; and finally, being “accountable for commitments, results, and quality to customers, shareholders, partners, and employees.”
Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith also serves as the company’s chief compliance officer. He is responsible for enforcing the Code of Ethics.
Microsoft has established a Business Conduct Line to enable employees and the public to report any breach of ethics. The Business Conduct Line can be reached at 877-320-MSFT (6738). Microsoft also allows for direct contact with its Office of Legal Compliance.
Microsoft has released a separate Code of Conduct for its International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners (IAMCP). The code tasks Microsoft partners with protecting Microsoft intellectual property, with social responsibility to the public, as well as competence, personal conduct and being knowledgeable in representing Microsoft worldwide.
Whatever the criticism of Microsoft ethics, and its past legal troubles (such as antitrust lawsuits in Europe), a survey by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship in 2009 named Microsoft as the second most admired company by U.S. consumers. The Walt Disney Co. was first and Google third. Social responsibility is only one element of Microsoft's Code of Conduct.