After an independent review found that its discrimination and harassment policies were lacking, Microsoft said today that it would accept its recommendations and do better.
“Cultivating a culture where everyone is empowered to do meaningful work and can thrive is our greatest responsibility at Microsoft,” Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said. “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. The Board of Directors and our senior leaders are fully committed to this implementation plan as we continually work to close the gap between our espoused culture and the lived experience of our employees.”
The review came in the wake of a 2019 sexual harassment claim involving Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who was then a Microsoft board member and advisor to Mr. Nadella. Unfortunately, this is one area within Microsoft that hadn’t improved in any meaningful way under Nadella, which has continued to “tolerate” inappropriate behavior by its male executives.
As bad, the software giant moved slowly to address the Gates complaint. Indeed, what it found were multiple complaints about Gates over many years, none of which had resulted in meaningful punishment. It wasn’t until 2020 that Gates finally resigned from the board.
At the time, Gates claimed that he simply wanted to move on to do more philanthropic work. But the independent review that Microsoft commissioned discovered something a little more nuanced: Gates had been confronted about the allegations by Microsoft president Brad Smith and admitted to the behavior, but claimed it was consensual. The timing of his exit was more than coincidental.
In any event, Microsoft now pledges to do better. It has published the independent review of its discrimination and harassment policies and has agreed to implement all of its recommendations. Additionally, it will be publicly transparent going forward with regard to its progress and any other incidents that may occur.
“We are confident that the implementation of these recommendations will not only address the specific concerns raised by [the] review, but will also allow us to build a stronger, more inclusive and equitable work environment for our employees moving forward,” a Microsoft corporate blog post explains. “We look forward to continued growth and progress in these areas in order to maintain a culture where all of our employees can thrive.”
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