February 2, 2023

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Microsoft will strengthen its anti-harassment rules after investigating the Gates affair

Microsoft is adjusting its sexual harassment policy in response to findings from ArentFox Schiff, the law firm it has hired to assess the company’s practices regarding concerns about sexual misconduct and discrimination in the workplace. The 50-page report includes a set of recommendations that Microsoft will implement by June 30, 2023, with some taking effect earlier.

In a Microsoft blog post, the company responded by committing to publish an annual report on the company’s policies on sexual harassment and gender discrimination, which will include the number of incidents reported and the actions taken as a result. It also intends to revise its anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and revamp the way it conducts investigations.

In addition to recommendations, the report also includes recent incidents of harassment and discrimination at Microsoft. According to the report, from 2019 to 2021, Microsoft received a total of 721 complaints, with 453 reports of gender discrimination accounting for the majority, followed by 210 complaints of sexual harassment and 58 complaints of gender-based harassment.

Gender or gender-based discrimination accounted for most of the complaints at Microsoft.

Gender or gender-based discrimination accounted for most of the complaints at Microsoft. Image: ArentFox ship

Another section looks at the allegations made by an insider report earlier this year alleging 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 certain level of evidence that they engaged in inappropriate behavior towards women employees” and that the issue “could have been addressed sooner than it was.”

“Cultivating a culture where everyone is empowered to do meaningful work and thrive is our greatest responsibility at Microsoft,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “The Board has taken this investigation seriously and the resulting comprehensive report highlights key areas for continued improvement and the progress we have made.”