Microsoft announced Thursday it would commission a review of its sexual harassment policies and examine how the company has handled reports of harassment, including its investigation of founder and former CEO Bill Gates.
The review is the result of a shareholder resolution passed last year ordering the company to reassess its policies, Microsoft’s board of directors said Thursday. The company has hired law firm Arent Fox to conduct the third-party review which will examine the company’s internal investigations of potential sexual harassment by board members and top executives, including Gates.
Microsoft launched an investigation into Gates in 2019 following allegations by a former engineer that she and Gates engaged in a sexual relationship, a report by The Wall Street Journal found. Gates resigned from the company’s board of directors in March 2020, before the investigation was concluded, and he announced his divorce from wife Melinda Gates in May 2021.
The review will also examine the steps Microsoft has taken to “hold employees, including executives, accountable” for sexual harassment or gender discrimination.
“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,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
Arent Fox will report the findings, including data on Microsoft’s sexual harassment claims and resulting investigations, privately to Microsoft’s board of directors.