Microsoft shares its plan to prevent harassment following a major review

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(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft just announced a plan to prevent discrimination and harassment within the company.
  • The planned steps come following an independent review of the company's sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies and practices.
  • Microsoft's Board of Directors brought in the ArentFox Schiff LLP law firm to conduct the review.
  • A 50-page report from ArentFox Schiff LLP was shared today, as were Microsoft's planned steps based on the report.

Microsoft just announced several steps it plans to take to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination at the company. The tech giant's Board of Director's engaged with the ArentFox Schiff LLP law firm to perform an independent review of Microsoft's policies and practices. ArentFox Schiff LLP shared a 50-page report outlining its findings today (via Bloomberg).

The Microsoft Board of Directors approved several steps that the company will take based on the ArentFox Schiff report. Microsoft announced the report's findings as well as the company's planned course of action in a blog post (opens in new tab). The introduction of the full report breaks down the scope of what ArentFox Schiff LLP looked at:

  • Review and assess the effectiveness of sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies, practices, trainings, and measures from the beginning of 2019 forward
  • Review the results of the investigation into allegations raised against Bill Gates in 2019 and any sexual harassment allegations against any other directors and Senior Leadership Team (“SLT”) members from the beginning of 2019 forward
  • Review data regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaints, their investigation, and resolution from 2019 forward
  • Review the 489 investigative reports for all of the U.S. gender discrimination and sexual harassment complaints from 2019–2021
  • Interview a sampling of recent sexual harassment and gender discrimination complainants (focused on FY 2021) to understand their experience with internal processes; and
  • Benchmark best practices from other companies and recommend enhancements to policies and practices.

“Cultivating a culture where everyone is empowered to do meaningful work and can thrive is our greatest responsibility at Microsoft,” said Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella.

“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 Board's implantation plan covers the following areas:

  • Comprehensive Policy Review
  • Targeted Policy Revisions
  • Broaden Awareness of Legal Rights
  • Reinforcing Policies with Expanded Training
  • Reconsideration Process
  • Investigation Survey
  • Investigative Process
  • Post-Investigation Action and Employee Experience
  • Leadership Accountability
  • Training
  • Transparency
  • Gender Diversity in Leadership Roles
  • Data & Systems Improvements

Several of the steps focus on revising and updating policies regularly. The plan also covers new disclosure policies regarding certain consensual relationships between Microsoft employees. It also calls for more transparency from the tech giant and training for senior leaders and executives.

Microsoft's Board of Directors believes that its planned steps will "not only address the specific concerns raised by ArentFox’s review, but will also allow [the company] to build a stronger, more inclusive and equitable work environment for our employees moving forward."

The full 50-page transparency report (opens in new tab) is available with only confidential and privileged information retracted. Microsoft's plan is also fully outlined in a blog post (opens in new tab).

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).