On Thursday, January 13, Microsoft announced that it has hired a law firm to investigate how the company handled sexual harassment claims leveled against some of its top executives, including founder Bill Gates.
According to Mail Online, the review will be conducted by Arent Fox LLP in Washington, D.C., which the board of directors chose because it has experience dealing with sexual harassment allegations and has not done much work with the company in the past.
After the law firm’s conclusions are made public, Microsoft will produce a report documenting its sexual harassment investigations and, if any, measures taken as a consequence.
Allegations of sexual harassment against Gates have been leveled at the firm since 2000. In 2020, he resigned from the firm after an inquiry into one of his connections with a former employee, and on May 3, 2021, he divorced his longtime wife, Melinda French Gates.
A few weeks after his divorce, The New York Times published an exposé revealing how Bill Gates sexually assaulted many of his workers and maintained close friendship to billionaire pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein three years after he was convicted of soliciting sex from a minor.
“Our culture remains our number one priority and the entire board appreciates the critical importance of a safe and inclusive environment for all Microsoft employees,” Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said in a statement.
“We’re committed not just to reviewing the report but learning from the assessment so we can continue to improve the experiences of our employees,” she continued.
“I embrace this comprehensive review as an opportunity to continue to get better.”
The decision to engage an outside agency to assess the company’s probes comes after activist shareholders sought greater transparency about the company’s treatment of sexual harassment allegations.
According to The New York Times, a resolution urging greater openness was approved by nearly 78 percent of shareholders in November.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Arent Fox will present its findings to Microsoft top management and board members as part of the assessment, along with recommendations on how to enhance the company’s culture.
In the spring, the firm would publish a summary of the findings with the public, which would lead to the public publication of Microsoft’s transparency report, which would describe the success of the company’s workplace rules regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
The report will include statistics on the number of sexual harassment claims handled by Microsoft and the outcomes of those investigations, as well as a summary of the findings of investigations involving Gates and other top executives.
In a statement, Microsoft executives stated that the report “will assess the steps that have been taken to hold employees, including executives, accountable for sexual harassment or gender discrimination.”
Microsoft’s sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies will also be compared to best practices followed by other organizations.
According to The Times, Bill Gates, the company’s founder, has been accused of courting at least two workers while leading the company. In one of the occasions, it was alleged in 2007, that Gates sat through a presentation by a Microsoft employee before emailing her and asking for a date. “If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never occurred,” he allegedly wrote.