Microsoft to review harassment policies, including Gates allegations
Microsoft said on Thursday that it is launching a review of its policies and practices regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination, with plans to issue a public report expected this spring.
Of note: Microsoft says the report will summarize the results of any investigations of potential sexual harassment by board members and senior executives — including the board's look into allegations made against co-founder Bill Gates.
- The inquiry is expected to review how the company investigated Gates, but it's not clear that any fresh details from that effort will be made public.
Driving the news:
- Shareholders passed an advisory resolution last year calling for such a review.
- Gates stepped down from the Microsoft board in March 2020. In 2019, a board committee began investigating allegations that Gates had "sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000."
How it works: Microsoft is bringing in law firm Arent Fox to conduct an outside review, noting that the firm has not done work for Microsoft on employment issues in the past.
- Among the things the firm will assess are "the steps that have been taken to hold employees, including executives, accountable for sexual harassment or gender discrimination."
- Arent Fox will first deliver its findings and recommendations privately to the company, with management preparing a plan to act on the recommendations.
- The board will then publish a public report "documenting the review and its findings as well as management’s plans for enhancements to current policies and practices."
- Microsoft says the report will include data on the number of sexual harassment cases investigated and their resolution.
What they're saying: "We’re committed not just to reviewing the report but learning from the assessment so we can continue to improve the experiences of our employees," CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.