Microsoft hires law firm for its sexual harassment policy review

The Visitor's Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.Source: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft

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.”

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