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Microsoft hires law firm to address Gates probe and review sexual harassment policies

The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.
The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington. (Image credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Back in November 2021, Microsoft shareholders voted in favor of the company reviewing and reporting on its sexual harassment policies' effectiveness.
  • Microsoft has now chosen the law firm that will carry out the review: Arent Fox LLP.
  • The firm's report will be released in the spring and will address items such as the Gates probe held in 2019.

In November 2021, shareholders voted in favor of Microsoft holding a formal review of its sexual harassment policies' effectiveness, followed by a report once results were gathered. Now, Microsoft has chosen law firm Arent Fox LLP to carry out said review, with a report to release in the spring of 2022, later this year.

One item that will be addressed in the upcoming review is the 2019 allegation and subsequent board investigation of Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates (via CNBC). The probe's findings will be summarized in Arent Law's report. The law firm will also compare Microsoft's practices against other companies' procedures for handling sexual harassment situations. Microsoft will then release a report indicating how it plans to adjust its sexual harassment policies and practices.

It's a big time for sexual harassment review in the tech industry, as evidenced by the Activision Blizzard ruckus of 2021, wherein the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a civil lawsuit against the company as a result of numerous instances of sexual harassment, many of which the company's acting CEO Bobby Kotick reportedly knew about but failed to act on.

In terms of the upcoming report concerning Microsoft's sexual harassment history, current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared a statement on the matter. "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," he said. "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. I embrace this comprehensive review as an opportunity to continue to get better."

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.