Helping the world’s
largest company put social impact first

Shifted periphery CSR efforts into the heart of Microsoft's culture
Defined Critical Questions to inspire, provoke and drive action
Launched as decision-making guide by Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella


For over a decade, Microsoft’s mission has been to empower every person and organization to achieve more. In the era of AI, Microsoft wanted to further embed their existing social responsibility within the cultural ethos, so everything their employees did was orientated toward positive social outcomes. The challenge for us: how could we make social impact more central, more usable and just more ‘Microsoft’?


To achieve this, we spoke with representatives from across the organization; from policy experts, to product leads, to brand and marketing teams. We interrogated success stories, aggregated a variety of opinions from employees, and unpicked existing frameworks that guide decision making.

We explored multiple iterations of what a new model of social responsibility could look like — from intersectional themes, to a philosophy of long-terminism. By workshopping with leaders through the organization, we found our solution in defining four Commitments.

"As we pursue our opportunity, we are also working to ensure technology helps us solve problems—not create new ones. To do this, we focus on four enduring commitments that are central to our mission and that take on even greater importance in this new era."

Satya Nadella
Chairman and CEO, Microsoft

Critical Questions

From this we crafted a clear set of Critical Questions. We wanted to avoid the trap that other companies have fallen into: presenting as if societal problems can easily be solved through one simple action. Rather than definitive answers, we proposed Microsoft employees continually ask Critical Questions.

This was visually supported by integrating Microsoft UI as design elements mixed with expressive annotations, allowing us to guide, provoke, call emphasis and direct.

"For us, these commitments are more than just words. They’re a guide to help us make decisions across everything we do—as we design and develop products, shape business processes and policies, help our customers thrive, build partnerships, and more —always asking ourselves critical questions to ensure our actions are aligned with them."

Satya Nadella
Chairman and CEO, Microsoft

Extending the Brand Toolkit

To help Microsoft integrate the Critical Questions into daily processes, we created an system that extended the Microsoft brand identity. This brought the conversation across campaigns, white papers, policy reports, data visualization and social media. Each commitment was represented by a distinct world, characterized by specific colors, motion principles, refreshed art direction and graphic annotations inspired by Microsoft's iconic product UI.


The Commitments act as a framework for teams to present and elevate existing initiatives such as promoting responsible AI and regulation, improving cybersecurity, protecting privacy, and investing in sustainable approaches. With this new framework and identity, employees can now question processes and policies, so small actions can drive change at scale.

Special thanks


Steve Foyle

Phyllis Murphy

Sierra Turner

Tracy Kennedy

Tasha Thomas

Gaby Czarniak

Sven Seger


Alexis Sellal

Emma Barrett

Rachel Honigman

Mo Hy

Kris Louie

Joe Hewitt

Yulim Heo

Ellie Jackson

Andy Dawson

Louis White

Ross Norman