Microsoft isn’t the only company that appears to go against its policies by promising to cover abortion travel costs for employees, while also donating to the political action committees that funded the governors and prosecutors who fought the coup. Roe vs. Wade. However, Microsoft is one of the biggest donors that has helped appoint many anti-abortion officials over time. The Center for Political Accountability (CPA) told Bloomberg that since 2010, Microsoft has donated $3 million to Republican groups persistently working to end abortion in America.
Microsoft may donate to these groups for any number of reasons, but a UK activist group of contributors called Tulipshare says the company should change its policy of political giving to resist political inconsistencies and increase transparency. To put pressure on Microsoft, Tulipshare partnered with the CPA. Together, they suggest that Microsoft release an annual report that would publicly connect the dots between the money Microsoft donates, the elected officials that donations support, and the specific causes that elected officials support. Such a report could terminate any company allegations about incidental donations to the fight against abortion.
According to Gina Armitage, chief marketing officer at Tulipshare, the activist group’s strategy is to “engage with Microsoft’s investor relations department” to order the annual report. It is assumed that “this report requires the company to request political action committees that it funds to identify candidates and the reasons they support.” If Microsoft rejects the proposal, Tulipshare’s next step will be to urge investors to “make a proposal to shareholders.”
“We’re asking Microsoft to demand more transparency from the political groups they donate to so that no one can manipulate what they fund,” Armitage told Ars. In this scenario, Republican Groups would have to report their spending to Microsoft, and Microsoft would have to report that spending to their shareholders.
If Tulipshare succeeds in its proposal, for the first time, Microsoft will be asked to take a closer look at the full public opinion of where political giving is going and how that aligns with the organization’s stated policy. Tulipshare’s goal is to get Microsoft to cease all anti-abortion donations and lobbying efforts, holding the company accountable for core values that appear to be reflected in Microsoft employees’ concerns about maintaining safe access to reproductive health care.
Armitage says it is wrong to mislead employees about the full scope of company policy. “You see a lot of companies jumping on this awakened marketing opportunity to speak out against something, whether it’s to attract more recruits, just to get themselves into the media, when in reality their political activities are saying otherwise,” Armitage said.
According to OpenSecrets, so far in 2022, Microsoft is ranked second ($283,500) – tied to Google ($283,500) and just behind PricewaterhouseCoopers ($500,500) – in a list of 15 companies that “have pledged cover abortion-related travel expenses” while PACs donated to their companies to politicians who recently voted against the Protection of Women’s Health Act. This law would have legalized abortion but failed to pass a Senate vote when Republicans did not vote for it. Microsoft donated $233,000 to 119 of these anti-abortion politicians who voted “no,” and awarded the maximum donation ($5,000) to nine.
It will be up to Microsoft’s leadership to decide whether such a report will benefit the company’s reputation at this moment. But OpenSecrets suggests that Microsoft’s donations clearly support anti-abortion causes, because the groups receiving the donations make clear how the money will be used. One group that received donations from Microsoft, the Republican Attorney General’s Association, immediately emailed its supporters on June 24 asking for donations after Raw vs. Wade It was overturned, promising that “every donation will help Republican attorneys general fight the Democrats’ pro-abortion agenda and stand up for life.”
A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on both Bloomberg and Ars.
Microsoft has historically donated to both Democrats and Republicans through institutional PACs, and OpenSecrets notes that of all 15 companies, Microsoft has been the only company that has shown a “trend to contribute more to democratic groups over time.” This may indicate that the company is working to be more aware of how political giving contradicts its policies not only on abortion, but also on other democratic issues that Microsoft supports, such as climate change or LGBTQ+ protection.