View:Click here to view the article
Title:How Microsoft is integrating environment justice into business development
Author:Mike De Socio

The tech giant's close collaboration with Emerald Cities Collaborative has informed renewable energy projects with equity as a central concern.

A deal with Sol Systems to build 500 MW of solar projects is one component of the partnership between Microsoft and Emerald Cities Collective, as is a $50 million commitment for community-led grants and investments. Courtesy of Sol Systems

When Microsoft first approached the Emerald Cities Collaborative in late 2019, with the idea of working together on renewable energy projects that address climate justice issues, there was skepticism on both sides.

The collaborative, a nonprofit network of community groups based in Washington, D.C., that is dedicated to developing clean energy, green infrastructure and other sustainable development projects, was wary of big corporations with flashy promises.

"Mission alignment may be around climate, but our organizations … are intersectional, so while you may be doing the right thing in climate, your labor standards or your other business practices may actually not be aligned," said Denise Fairchild, president emeritus of the Emerald Cities Collaborative. "So we’re concerned about mission alignment, profit over mission. We’re concerned about tokenism, a lot of corporations step into the plate just to get the photo opportunity."

Fairchild had seen this play out before with other companies: "At the bottom line, there’s no real engagement of the community, there’s no decision-making and power-sharing opportunities. And there’s no significant impact in the communities that we are saying that we care about."

On the other side of the relationship, Microsoft’s director of datacenter environmental sustainability, Danielle Decatur, had to show corporate leaders within the software giant the value of partnering with community groups to achieve sustainability goals.

"It's my job to create that architecture within our company to help folks connect...

Date Added:12/9/2022 6:37:23 AM