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Photo: Getty Images

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:

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.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 14, 2022 - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Tech giants play the blame game

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

With regulators around the world looking at reining in Big Tech, the companies in the crosshairs are increasingly eager to point out their rivals' sins.

Why it matters: Investigations in the U.S. and around the world are targeting Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. To make their case, regulators need to show the companies are squelching competition — a task the tech companies may be aiding with their infighting.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.