Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than 2 years after Susan Fowler's account of sexual harassment at Uber kicked off a wave of reckoning inside tech companies, the industry is still more reactive than forward-looking in handling the ethical issues raised by sexual misconduct.

Why it matters: By waiting for media exposure before taking principled action against sexual harassment and related misdeeds, some tech leaders are still sending a message of "get away with it as long as you can" rather than "do what's right."

Driving the news: Over the weekend, MIT Media Lab head Joi Ito resigned after revelations that he and others allowed convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to play a prominent role in donating and soliciting donations for the institution.

  • A wave of news coverage this summer chronicled Epstein's role as a funder of research scientists and the Media Lab — long after his conviction for soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2008. That prompted a public apology from Ito, but also a letter in his defense from dozens of his associates and friends.
  • Women inside the institution raised questions to Ito about the issue at the time that he did not pursue.
  • It took a Ronan Farrow exposé in the New Yorker, detailing that Ito and the Media Lab knew there was a problem and took pains to try to keep Epstein's donations anonymous.
  • And as recently as this past week, according to reports, the lab's founder Nicholas Negroponte was arguing that it was fine to take the money and he'd advise doing it again.

The big picture: It's clear that there has been progress over the last 30 months, with some changes in both personnel and policy at a number of major tech companies.

  • Uber has replaced its CEO, ousted some others and revised some policies, including an end to confidentiality agreements and forced arbitration for those making sexual misconduct allegations.
  • Under pressure, Google agreed to stop forcing arbitration on those alleging sexual harassment.
  • A number of tech venture capital firms, including 500 Startups and Binary Capital, have made leadership changes amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Yes, but: Too often, companies are still either covering up problems that are likely to become public knowledge eventually, or responding only after the press turns a spotlight on a problem that they've long known about.

What they're saying: Kara Swisher in the New York Times: "Corner-cutting ethics have too often become part and parcel to the way business is done in the top echelons of tech, allowing those who violate clear rules and flout decent behavior to thrive and those who object to such behavior to endure exhausting pushback."

What's next: Look for more fallout from Epstein's tech connections, as well as closer scrutiny of contributions and investments from other potentially tainted sources, like Saudi money tied to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Go deeper: Sexual harassment remains rampant in tech

Go deeper

Americans reflect on Independence Day amid racism reckoning

A Black Lives Matter banner and a United States flag on the facade of the U.S. embassy building in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Simon Shin/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

America's leaders are rethinking how they view Independence Day, as the country reckons with the historic, unequal treatment of people of color during a pandemic which has disproportionately affected nonwhite Americans.

Why it matters: The country’s legacy of racism has come into sharp focus in the weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. From Confederate statues to Mount Rushmore, Americans are reexamining the symbols and traditions they elevate and the history behind them.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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  4. Public health: The states where face coverings are mandatory Fauci says it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
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Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins have announced they will be conducting a review of the team's name after mounting pressure from the public and corporate sponsors.

Why it matters: This review is the first formal step the Redskins are taking since the debate surrounding the name first began. It comes after weeks of discussions between the team and the NFL, the team said.