The Microsoft Partner Pledge




Large corporations and government agencies are increasingly being judged on their impact on the people they employ and the communities that they work in, including their environmental impact.

Companies typically use two programs to measure and drive these non-financial initiatives: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Smaller companies, such as the typical service providers in the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, tend to be less driven by these initiatives. Two drivers are changing this, the pressure from society and within the company to ‘be better citizens’, and the need for the larger corporations to trace initiatives like sustainability throughout their supply chain.

Implementing such programs can be confusing and expensive for a smaller business, but help is at hand in the shape of the Microsoft Partner Pledge. This pledge enables a company to sign up to set of goals alongside Microsoft and most importantly, gives clear guidance and support in achieving progress. (1,2)

What is the Microsoft Partner Pledge ?

Signing up to the Microsoft Partner Pledge is a simple online process. The Pledge offers partners a simple framework to kick start their CSR/DEI initiatives, with a set of useful tools and guides.

The Framework splits commitments into three areas:

Growing Talent In Our Industry
Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion
Shaping a Desirable World

Let's explore each in turn:

Growing Talent In Our Industry allows partners to attract, train and retain the very best staff for their business. A well-defined learning culture within a business makes it a more attractive proposition for new employees looking for an employer who invests in skills and learning. Initiatives including the six-step skilling initiative, Microsoft Apprenticeship Network and Digitals Skills bootcamps enable partners to provide their employees with the types of programs usually associated with much larger corporations.


Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion is a key initiative to ensure that each member of staff is provided with a supportive environment to deliver their best work, a benefit for the company and the individual (3). Studies have shown that companies with the greatest workforce diversity deliver stronger financial performance than those with less diverse employees (4). Using this explanation for having a Diversity and Inclusion policy can backfire as employees from diverse populations are more likely to be attracted to companies who explain their diversity initiatives as the right thing to do for fairness rather than financial gain (5,6). Another key element in this area is the generational shift with Generation Alpha following their own path on gender identity, and are more open to expressing neuro diversity. As their impact on the workplace is felt, companies will need to offer Generation Alpha the type of inclusive workplaces they will rightly demand. With strong moral and financial imperatives for DEI, having the guiding hand of a global leader like Microsoft can help Microsoft partners along the way. With tools like the Women Rising Programme and the D&I accelerator, the Partner Pledge offers partners concrete, actionable initiatives to help increase their diversity and inclusion.


Shaping a Desirable World covers a number of elements. Initially grounded in sustainability, this area has been bolstered with commitments around responsible and ethical AI. When it comes to sustainability, all the major IT providers and cloud providers have set admirable targets and arguably, Microsoft has the most stringent reporting and transparency on their sustainability goals and progress (7). The Microsoft Partner Pledge has separate sections for ISV and services partners, with a suite of tools and advice tailored to each audience. Services partners can calculate their cloud carbon footprint, learn how to study the Microsoft sustainability guide and use Microsoft Sustainability Manager to record, report and reduce their environmental impact.


Microsoft are also leading the way in AI with CoPilot being included in more solutions on a regular basis. As partners and their customers start to deploy AI, the need to mitigate risks whilst solving problems in a new way is critical. Microsoft provides partners with a body of research and guidance under their AI for Good banner.

What are the benefits to a Microsoft partner of signing the Partner Pledge?

Signing the Partner Pledge and aligning to the three pillars provides the following benefits to Microsoft partners:


Microsoft and distribution visibility. 

Most Microsoft partners that we speak to are keen to increase their traction with either Microsoft directly for larger clients, or with distribution for SME customers. Signing the Partner Pledge and having clear business strategies for the three pillars is a clear statement that a Microsoft partner is a business worthy of investment and customer introductions.


Increased profitability. 

As evidenced above, firms with a strong focus on DEI achieve better financial performance. The ability to attract and retain the right staff for your business will be significantly enhanced by the three pillars of the Partner Pledge.


It’s the right thing to do. 

It is no longer acceptable for businesses to prioritise profits ahead of people, communities and the environment. The three pillars of the Partner Pledge align with goals which should be at the heart of any responsible organisation. Signing the Microsoft Partner Pledge is a clear signal that a Microsoft partner is a forward-looking company.


Marketing potential. 

A quick online search for Partner Pledge will uncover thousands of results for Microsoft partners who have already signed the Pledge. From the largest global system integrators to local MSPs, the Microsoft Partner Pledge is an activity that companies want to shout about.


Access to valuable tools and guidance. 

The Microsoft Partner Pledge provides clear guidance and supporting tools to achieve the goals that companies should be striving to achieve anyway. Larger corporates pay consulting firms significant fees to develop programs in these areas. Using the provided tools within the Pledge, Microsoft partners can elevate their status as an ethical business with minimal cost.

Advice to Microsoft partners around the Microsoft Partner Pledge:

We advise all Microsoft partners to sign the Microsoft Partner Pledge for the reasons outlined above. Signing up is just the start though: success will depend on how well the business is aligned to the three pillars and progress is made in the right direction. To ensure that the Pledge becomes more than just an empty promise we suggest the following:

Any cultural change in a business requires support from the management and passion from the employees. A top-down edict will be resisted, and an employee led approach will fail without management support. We recommend that each pillar within the Partner Pledge is led by an employee with a passion for the area with support from the management to drive the right initiatives.

For example, global distributor TD SYNNEX has created DEI councils for each of their geographic regions, and within that are several virtual teams called Business Resource Groups (BRG). Each BRG focusses on a pillar of the DEI journey (e.g. LGBT, neuro diversity, women in technology, race and religion) and comprises a group of individuals who put themselves forward to contribute. Each BRG is given time and budget to create programs to guide the organisation on its’ DEI journey, they report directly to the country board. This mechanism of giving a voice to staff with the passion to drive change is in itself inclusive and is likely to drive change faster than a top down edict. (8)

We suggest making clear commitments in key areas such as diversity and sustainability, publish those commitments and monitor progress quarterly. Making your journey public will help customers and partners understand your commitment and maintain focus on progress within the business.