Microsoft - Delivering its first environmental sustainability report

  • Anna Harley

Challenge In January 2020 Microsoft announced bold commitments to be carbon negative, zero waste and water positive all by 2030, whilst removing its historical carbon by 2050 and building a planetary computer. One year on, Microsoft wanted to democratise its environmental know-how and produce a comprehensive and transparent playbook, summarising progress and learnings to date whilst demonstrating that its goals are being backed by action.

Microsoft’s undeniably ambitious goals required a report that demonstrates a holistic approach and tangible actions being taken, using a clear and humble tone. We looked to inspire readers to take measures of their own via an engaging and accessible ‘shared learnings’ format.

We gave each focus area – carbon, water, waste and ecosystems – their own section in the report, and tied them together with an overall narrative, positioning the goals in an upfront strategic overview section.

By distilling large amounts of information via infographics and visualisations, the report has engaged with readers at multiple levels. We supported Microsoft's web team with the creation of a dedicated landing page, further amplifying the report’s reach, and the open approach of the content and design ensured both a transparent and accessible report.

Microsoft is using the report as a business management tool as much as a method to democratise its know-how. Immediately after the launch, it has become a trusted source for businesses all over the world to learn and draw from.