Apple will match giving by employees, dollar for dollar up to 10K per year.

This is a great new step for Apple. The company has $76 billion dollars in cash reserves—more than the US Treasury. Since Steve Jobs stepped down, there’s been a flurry of speculation whether Apple will turn over a new leaf and become more philanthropic.

I named Apple as one of the Least Philanthropic Companies in a previous SSIR blog post because it compared so poorly in philanthropy and community commitment to their fellow corporate titans, including Microsoft, Cisco, or American Express.

This employee matching gift program is a great first step. But it still has a ways to go. Apple still does not have a foundation that gives grants; it still does not have an employee volunteering program; and it still does not give nonprofits discounts on Apple products.

Apple is also under fire for its environmental practices in China for the second year in a row. In a report last Wednesday, a Chinese environmental group called Apple “stubbornly evasive,” and said its refusal to discuss suppliers that pollute waters and air with hazardous materials “can only be seen as a deliberate refusal of responsibility” for environmental issues.

There are some people who argue that companies have no obligation to the communities they work in or sell to. In this case, where Apple has profited so enormously, not giving back would show a greed bordering on intentional disregard. Apple is not like an upstart anymore, but one of the most influential and profitable companies in the world. It has started to acknowledge its social and community obligations to its employees and to the customers who have made them so profitable.

Are you hopeful that Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, will bring more such changes to the company? If so, what would you like Apple to do next with its philanthropy?