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Skype employees pitch in to build low-income housing

Multiple choice question: which of the following lists of tools and technologies are associated with working for Skype?
A. hammers, nails, hard hats and 2X4s
B. laptops, webcams, LED screens and smartphones
C. all of the above

If you were one of the forty Skypers, including President of Skype, Tony Bates, who recently built a housing project for Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, the answer is: C. all of the above. And this was not some side project organized by just a few altruistic employees. It was an example of the greater Skype and Microsoft culture of giving back through donations and volunteering.

Bates has been a strong advocate of giving back and comments, “When people ask the question, ‘How can a corporation afford to take time [to give back]?’ I think it’s the other way around, ‘How can a corporation not afford to take time to give back?’”

Harvey Grasty, a Senior Account Manager in Skype Business Development and volunteer on that day, says, “Microsoft makes it really easy for Skype employees to participate and volunteer in charitable activities.” Beyond granting the day off for these organized group activities, the company also matches $17 per hour for individual volunteer projects and donates the money to the employee’s charity of choice.

While matching funds for volunteer hours is not unheard of in the tech industry, Sid Espinosa, a Microsoft Director of Citizenship states, “Some companies that match time donations top out at $300-500 per year. We give up to an unprecedented $12,000 per employee per year. And many of our employees use the full amount. Microsoft wants to make the point that ‘if you care, we care.’ It’s really an incredible commitment.”

Harvey concludes, “It was an incredibly memorable day contributing to the Habitat for Humanity project. It’s great to work for a company that makes volunteerism a priority and to have a President who isn’t afraid to roll-up his sleeves with all of us.” Check out our video to see the team hard at work:

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