January 22, 2022

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Microsoft opens a evaluation of its sexual harassment insurance policies.

Microsoft opens a review of its sexual harassment policies.

Microsoft has chosen a legislation agency to evaluation 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 in every of its founders, had handled staff, particularly girls.

The board mentioned it had chosen Arent Fox, primarily based in Washington, D.C. Microsoft mentioned the agency had by no means completed employment-related work for it previously.

Shareholders handed a decision in the course of the firm’s 2021 annual assembly to evaluation 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 help from nearly 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 underneath intense public scrutiny attributable to quite a few claims of sexual harassment and an alleged failure to deal with them adequately and transparently,” the textual content of the decision mentioned. “Experiences of Invoice Gates’s inappropriate relationships and sexual advances towards Microsoft staff have solely exacerbated issues, placing in query the tradition set by prime management and the board’s position holding these culpable accountable.”

Mr. Gates solicited a minimum of two staff whereas he was working Microsoft, in response to studies in The New York Occasions and The Wall Road Journal. In a single incident, in 2007, Mr. Gates sat by 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 received 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 government, mentioned in a press release 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 are able to proceed to enhance the experiences of our staff,” he mentioned.

Karen Weise contributed reporting.

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