INTERNATIONAL: Ballmer memo puts CSR top of Microsoft agenda

REDMOND, WA: Computing behemoth Microsoft has signalled its intent to rebuild its image from the inside, putting a much stronger focus on corporate social responsibility.

In an internal memo from CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this month, the company told its 50,000 employees its mission is more than merely creating and improving technology; it also involves Microsoft's relationships with its customers and others in the industry.

The Ballmer memo tells staff: 'Our mission is not just about building great technology; it's also about who we are as a company and as individuals, how we manage our business internally, and how we think about and work with partners and customers.'

Microsoft PR director Mark Murray said: 'It is a call for action. So we'll make adjustments to how we manage PR in accordance with the values Steve laid out. We'll also look at further adjustments we need to make, whether it's with the industry or our customers, or rebuilding trust in the company.'

Murray said all elements of its PR activities could get involved, 'whether it's our PR partners, internally, or our agencies - Edelman PR Worldwide, Waggener Edstrom or Sandler'.

The drawn-out anti-trust case brought by the US Department of Justice has damaged Microsoft's reputation and painted the firm as a monopolistic corporate giant.

Industry analyst Mark Anderson, who has acted as consultant to Microsoft in the past, said: '(This) is an effort to rebrand the company. After two years as CEO, Steve understands what the problems really are and is making a concerted effort to address these issues. But to rebrand Microsoft globally - if it can be done - is a five-to-ten-year job.'

In the memo, Ballmer listed several 'values' Microsoft plans to prioritise, ranging from excellence in relationships and 'broad customer connection' to 'innovative and responsible platform leadership' and 'a global, inclusive approach'.

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