Microsoft announced on Thursday, January 13, that it has hired a law firm to investigate how the company handled sexual harassment allegations against some of its top executives, including founder Bill Gates.
According to the report, the review will be conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Arent Fox LLP, which the board of directors chose because it has experience dealing with sexual harassment allegations and has not done much work with the company in the past.
After the law firm’s findings are made public, Microsoft will release a report detailing its sexual harassment investigations and, if any, actions taken as a result.
‘We’re committed not only to reviewing the report but also to learning from the assessment so that we can continue to improve our employees’ experiences,’ she added.
‘I welcome this comprehensive review as an opportunity to improve.’
The decision to hire an outside firm to review the company’s investigations comes after activist shareholders demanded greater transparency about the company’s handling of sexual harassment issues.
Arent Fox is expected to submit its findings to Microsoft senior management and board members as part of the review, along with recommendations on how to improve the company’s culture.
In the spring, the company would share a summary of the findings with the public, which would lead to the public release of Microsoft’s transparency report detailing the effectiveness of the company’s workplace policies regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
The report will include data on the number of sexual harassment cases investigated by Microsoft and the outcomes of those investigations, as well as a summary of the findings of investigations into Gates and other senior executives.
Microsoft executives stated in a statement that the report “will assess the steps that have been taken to hold employees, including executives, accountable for sexual harassment or gender discrimination.”
The company will also compare Microsoft’s sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies to the best practices in the industry.
Bill Gates, the company’s founder, has been accused of soliciting at least two employees while running the company. In one of the incidents, it was reported in 2007, that Gates sat through a presentation by a Microsoft employee before emailing her and asking for a date. ‘If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened,’ he allegedly wrote.