Microsoft hires law firm to review sexual harassment policy

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella listens to questions from the audience at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Bellevue, Washington, on November 30, 2016.

Stephen Brasher | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Microsoft’s The board of directors said Thursday that it will review the software maker’s sexual harassment policy and issue a report in the spring after the November shareholders meeting approved a proposal report on this topic.

The assessment comes after years of complaints about Microsoft investigating concerns raised by employees.

Law firm Arent Fox will handle the review. Arendt Fox, who has offices in Washington and other U.S. cities, “has not done much work for the company in the past,” the board said. The review will compare Microsoft’s handling of harassment with that of other companies, although this is not what Arjuna Capital is asking for in its shareholder proposal.

Arent Fox will present a report with recommendations to the board, and executives will present to the board a plan to act on those recommendations. The board will then release a report to the public showing how Microsoft intends to adjust its approach to harassment.

“Our culture remains our number one priority, and the entire board recognizes the importance of a safe and inclusive environment for all Microsoft employees,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. Not only committed to reviewing the report, but also committed to learning from the assessment so that we can continue to improve the employee experience. I accept this comprehensive review as an opportunity to continue to get better.”

Nadella face the subject In May last year, it was reported that Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates had sex with an employee in 2000. Microsoft received a report on the matter, and a board committee investigated it.Gates leave the Microsoft board 2020. Nadella said anyone can ask an issue, even if it’s been around for 20 years, and the company will take action. Microsoft’s board said Thursday that its report will summarize the findings, including those involving Gates.

The board report will also consider female employees in the Email Chains for 2019 and the company’s response.

In addition to the Gates case and the emails, Arjuna Capital in its shareholder proposal cited a 2012 class-action lawsuit against Microsoft in which 238 employees claimed to have been harassed. According to the case, “Microsoft’s human resources team continually ignored and denied the allegations, arguing only that one of them was established.”

In the lawsuit, which was dropped in 2020, former Microsoft employee Katie Moussouris alleges that Microsoft developed a habit of sexism against women in tech and engineering roles.

In her original complaint in 2015, she said she had complained in 2008 that a male director had harassed other female employees. Microsoft found this to be true, but moved him to another part of the company and allowed him to keep his title. Mussuris said she complained after supervisors retaliated against her and offered her a low bonus, but Microsoft did nothing. He was later promoted, she claims.

Employees of other big tech companies Apple and Google Concerns have been raised about the way their employers handle harassment allegations. Google in 2020 Settlement lawsuit Discussing allegations from shareholders that they mishandled executive misconduct, the company announced a slew of new practices.

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