Microsoft’s adjusting its sexual harassment policies in response to findings from ArentFox Schiff, the law firm it hired to evaluate the company’s practices over concerns about sexual misconduct and discrimination in the workplace. The 50-page report lays out a series of recommendations that Microsoft will implement by June 30th, 2023, with some coming into force earlier than that.
In a post on the Microsoft blog, the company commits to publishing an annual report on its sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies, which will include the number of reported incidents and the actions taken as a result. It also aims to revise its anti-harassment and discrimination policy, as well as revamp the way it conducts investigations.
The report touches on specific incidents as well, including allegations about former CEO Bill Gates’ affair with a female employee. Gates left the company board in 2020, with a report from The Wall Street Journal indicating that board members encouraged him to step down before the investigation into the incident concluded. The report says Gates claimed the affair was “consensual” but doesn’t offer any additional details about Microsoft’s response.
In addition to providing recommendations, the report also outlines recent harassment and discrimination incidents at Microsoft. According to the report, Microsoft received a total of 721 total complaints from 2019 to 2021, with 453 gender discrimination reports making up the majority, followed by 210 sexual harassment and 58 gender harassment complaints.
Another section addresses the allegations brought about by an Insider report from earlier this year, which alleges that the company let “golden boy” executives get away with inappropriate behavior. The executives implicated in the report, HoloLens co-creator Alex Kipman and cloud executive Tom Keane, resigned over the summer, but ArentFox Schiff’s report suggests there was “a degree of evidence that they were engaging in inappropriate conduct toward female employees” and that the issue “could have been addressed earlier than it was.”
“Cultivating a culture where everyone is empowered to do meaningful work and can thrive is our greatest responsibility at Microsoft,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “The Board of Directors has taken this investigation seriously and the resulting comprehensive report outlines important areas where we can continue to improve, as well as progress we’ve made.”