Arent Fox Hired by Microsoft To Examine Sexual Harassment Issues

Microsoft Corp. has hired law firm Arent Fox to review its sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies following a push by shareholders to do something about the issues following allegations involving co-founder Bill Gates.

The law firm review will include details from the Microsoft board’s investigation into allegations against Gates and including the senior management team, the company has announced.

Gates stepped down had “sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000.”

In a statement regarding tyhe appointment of Arent Fox to conduct its review, the company said: “The firm is experienced in these matters and has not previously been involved in representing Microsoft in employment matters, nor has it done a significant amount of work for the company in the past,” Microsoft said.

Arent Fox will report to the board and Microsoft management, which will prepare a plan to act on recommendations following which there will be a public report on the findings and the company’s plans to deal with them although it is unclear what fresh information may emerge from such public disclosure, or to what extent the disclosure will be made.

A non-binding shareholder resolution called on Microsoft to review the effectiveness of its sexual harassment policies. The resolution, sponsored by Arjuna Capital, was approved in November over the company’s opposition. It came after reports that Gates behaved inappropriately toward female employees years ago.

The review will include examinations of concerns raised by employees in a lengthy 2019 email thread and actions the company took to address those concerns. It will also examine steps taken to hold workers and executives accountable and include data on cases investigated since 2019 and their outcome, all steps requested in the resolution. The law firm will also benchmark Microsoft against best practices in place at other companies.

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