Microsoft has chosen a legislation agency to overview its sexual harassment and gender discrimination insurance policies, the corporate’s board introduced on Thursday, after shareholders raised alarms about how Microsoft and Invoice Gates, one among its founders, had handled staff, particularly ladies.
The board stated it had chosen Arent Fox, primarily based in Washington, D.C. Microsoft stated the agency had by no means accomplished employment-related work for it up to now.
Shareholders handed a decision throughout the firm’s 2021 annual assembly to overview the insurance policies Microsoft has in place for its staff to guard them in opposition to abuse and undesirable sexual advances.
The decision handed with assist from virtually 78 p.c of Microsoft’s shareholders. It was the one of 5 proposals on moral points put forth by shareholders to succeed. Others, like a name for a report on race- and gender-based pay gaps on the firm and a pledge to ban gross sales of facial recognition to authorities entities, failed.
“Microsoft is below intense public scrutiny attributable to quite a few claims of sexual harassment and an alleged failure to handle them adequately and transparently,” the textual content of the decision stated. “Experiences of Invoice Gates’s inappropriate relationships and sexual advances towards Microsoft staff have solely exacerbated considerations, placing in query the tradition set by high management and the board’s function holding these culpable accountable.”
Mr. Gates solicited a minimum of two staff whereas he was operating Microsoft, in line with stories in The New York Occasions and The Wall Road Journal. In a single incident, in 2007, Mr. Gates sat by means of a presentation by a Microsoft worker, then instantly emailed her to ask for a date. Microsoft leaders later warned Mr. Gates to not do issues like that. In 2019, Microsoft’s board obtained a letter from an engineer claiming to have had a sexual relationship with Mr. Gates in 2000. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gates confirmed that the 2 had had an affair that “ended amicably.”
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief govt, stated in an announcement on Thursday that office tradition was Microsoft’s “No. 1 precedence.”
“We’re dedicated not simply to reviewing the report however studying from the evaluation so we will proceed to enhance the experiences of our staff,” he stated.
Karen Weise contributed reporting.