20th February 2019
Are tech giants doing enough to serve their communities?

Are Tech Giants Doing Enough to Serve Communities They’ve Transformed?

It is one of the great debates of our times. To what extent should giant tech companies take the ethical lead and fulfil their tax paying obligations? Indeed, the Switch2IT team has been quick to call out the “big boys” on a range of issues where they have not been pulling their weight. Recent controversies over the tax arrangements of Google, Amazon, and others have only fanned the flames. Another question has arisen about the negative impact on local communities. When these giant tech companies move in, can our towns and cities cope with all the downsides? Should these same firms be leading the charge against inequality? Are they indeed trying to look like they are making a difference by investing in housing for certain communities but in fact neglecting to pay taxes owed on sales made in other places?

It is a debate that has been raging for some time, especially in America. Companies like Twitter have been blamed for the lack of affordable housing in San Francisco, home to the company’s new HQ since 2011. Twitter took advantage of the city’s super-low 1.5% payroll tax, which was designed to lure businesses away from nearby Silicon Valley. The tax break has been blamed for driving up rents and house prices in the San Francisco area due to the large salaries that companies like Twitter pay their employees. With levels of homelessness in San Francisco at record levels, the city’s tech giants have continued to post record profits. Put simply, it does not sit right!

Microsoft appear to be tackling the issue of affordable housing head-on but are they really a force for good? In January, the company announced it is pledging a $500 million loan to help build affordable housing in Seattle, home to Microsoft’s global headquarters. Apparently, the move represents one of the biggest efforts yet by any tech company to fix inequality close to home. Although Microsoft founder Bill Gates has famously donated billions to charity over the years, this latest move is significant in that it comes out of the company’s own coffers.

“We believe everybody has a role to play, and everybody needs to play their role,” says Microsoft president Brad Smith. The company hopes the loans will benefit Seattle residents who, as Smith puts it, “teach our kids in schools, and put out the fires in our houses and keep us alive in the hospital”. This hints to another drawback of tech boom in many parts of the world. “Ordinary” workers, such as those in the public sector, are finding it harder to pay rent in the cities that they serve.

As you would expect, this latest pledge by Microsoft has prompted calls for other tech giants to do more to help their home cities. In response to this article, Dan Goodin, Security Editor at Ars Technica, tweeted: “Both Facebook and Google are supporting affordable housing projects, but nothing close to what Microsoft just pledged. And I'm not aware of Twitter doing much of anything. It's time these wealthy companies did more.”

On the surface, the efforts of Microsoft might look like it has enormous potential to improve the fortunes of communities turned upside down by newly-arrived tech giants who, in Facebook’s infamous motto, seek to “move fast and break things.” However, the fact of the matter is that tech giants need to stop trying to dupe with their so-called do-gooding and pay taxes in the countries where it is owed, just like any other business like yours or ours

The Switch2IT team would be interested to see Dynamics 365’s tax paid on sales by country in the current situation compared with the figures of them paying the actual tax rate, the one everyone else pays, to see the difference this makes on a country level and a local level. Surely that would be the biggest move to improve communities…

Let Switch2IT change things up for your business

Though small when compared to the likes of Microsoft and Twitter, Switch2IT has the power to make gigantic positive changes to your SME – whether you are based in London, Kent, Sussex, Surrey or Hampshire – just by getting your cyber security strategy kicked into touch.

Sign up for one of our IT managed service contracts and get the level of IT support your business needs, at the price you want to pay. We’ll make sure everything from your computer system backups to your cloud computing to your IT infrastructure is up-to-date, secure and fit for purpose.

You can even benefit from a free SLL certificate when you use our secure web hosting service. Call us today on our Freephone number, 0800 083 3416, to find out more about how you can Switch2IT.

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