My buddy, Nick Nicholaou, announced last Friday, at the Church IT Roundtable, that Microsoft had changed their anti-discrimination policy language. And it's a GREAT change for religious organizations!
Essentially, their policy used to say, to be eligible for non-profit/charity pricing, organizations could not use any discrimination in their hiring processes with the exception of "other than as allowed by law." Some churches did not feel comfortable with that language and thus would not sign that they were in full compliance with Microsoft's anti-discrimination policy and thus could not get charity pricing.
Now, Microsoft clearly spells out exemptions for religious orgs...
Microsoft values and respects individual and cultural differences and is committed to providing an inclusive environment that is welcoming and free from discrimination.
Therefore, organizations are not eligible to participate in the Microsoft corporate citizenship nonprofit giving program if they have a policy or mission of discrimination in hiring, compensation, access to training or services, promotion, termination, and/or retirement based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, political affiliation, union membership, or veteran status.
The only exception to this policy is for religious organizations that are exempt from laws that prohibit such discrimination.
*Microsoft is in the process of applying this updated anti-discrimination policy across all of its giving policies; this process is expected to be completed by the close of calendar year 2015.
Microsoft also added more language about their reasoning behind this new change...
Why is Microsoft creating an exception for religious organizations that discriminate? Are you giving special treatment to religious organizations?
Microsoft’s policy is intended to be consistent with United States federal laws to the extent they provide exemptions for religious organizations, based on the organization’s religious doctrine and beliefs, from anti-discrimination laws or regulations related to hiring or access to services.
We are a religious organization, but we do not know if we are exempt from laws that prohibit discrimination. How can we know for sure?
The laws or exemptions that apply to your organization depend on your organization and its practices. Some commonly considered issues include hiring based on religious affiliation or beliefs (under Title VII to the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding same sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges). If you are uncertain about how federal anti-discrimination laws may or may not apply to your organization, we suggest contacting an attorney to request a legal opinion.
Is my organization required to provide evidence of compliance with Microsoft’s anti-discrimination policy to be eligible to participate?
Microsoft expects organizations to honestly and accurately certify the anti-discrimination statement during the eligibility validation process. Microsoft does not require nor collect evidence of compliance with the anti-discrimination policy, nor does Microsoft make legal judgments of the accuracy of the certification or applicability of anti-discrimination law to your organization’s practices. As always, however, Microsoft reserves the right to grant or deny an organization's application or participation at any time, for any reason.
So, if prior your church didn't feel they could fully comply with Microsoft's charity eligibility requirements, there should be nothing stopping you now! Well, unless you're not yet a 501c3 :-)
Huge thanks to Nick for his work with Microsoft to help make this change happen!