Microsoft has reportedly hired a team of external lawyers to review the company’s sexual harassment policies, including the handling of allegations against company founder Bill Gates.
Business Insider reports that Microsoft’s board announced this week that it has hired an external law firm to look into the company’s handling of allegations of sexual harassment. The board has reportedly hired the law firm Arent Fox to conduct a full review of its sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies.
Arent Fox will reportedly be summarizing any sexual harassment investigations brought against members of Microsoft’s board of directors and its senior leadership tea, including allegations brought against Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
In May 2021, it was reported that members of the Microsoft board opened an investigation into Gates in 2019 following allegations from an employee who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Gates.
In a statement at the time, Microsoft said:
Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000.
A committee of the Board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern.
In 2020, Gates stepped down from his position on Microsoft’s board before the investigation concluded. A spokesperson for Gates said that his decision to step down from the board was “in no way related to this matter.”
The board stated that Arent Fox’s investigation will “assess the steps that have been taken to hold employees, including executives, accountable for sexual harassment or gender discrimination.”
A shareholder proposal passed at Microsoft’s annual shareholder meeting in November demanded an “independent and transparent” investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at the company.
The proposal stated: “Reports of Bill Gates’ inappropriate relationships and sexual advances towards Microsoft employees have only exacerbated concerns, putting in question the culture set by top leadership, and the board’s role holding those culpable accountable.”
The review will end in a transparency report which is set to be provided to employees, shareholders, and the public in Spring this year.
Read more at Business Insider here.