This year has seen sexual harassment dominate the news as numerous high profile figures were embroiled in accusations. It has sparked about high rife sexual harassment is amongst people with power and influence. To address the concerns, Microsoft has changed its workplace policy.
The company announced it is ending its policy of forced arbitration agreements with employees who file sexual harassment claims. It is certainly good to see one of the world’s biggest company take a proactive step.
“The silencing of people’s voices has clearly had an impact in perpetuating sexual harassment,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, told the New York Times.
Additionally, Microsoft says it supports a proposed federal law that would band such arbitration agreements.
“What this legislation does is ensure that peoples’ voices can always be heard by going to court, if that’s what it takes for those voices to be heard,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s the kind of step that can make a difference.”
Forced arbitration agreements give companies the right to keep harassment and discrimination claims out of courts. This could arguably allow sexual misconduct to go unnoticed for years or allow companies to cover up such accusations.
Microsoft has become one of the first tech companies (especially of this size) to remove forced arbitration agreements. The company says it will continue to create an even workplace looking towards 2018.
“Every person deserves a workplace where he or she is treated with respect. We’ll continue to identify new opportunities within our own company to support the respectful culture we’re working to advance, and many other companies no doubt will do so as well. But we should also identify steps we can take together as a country. This important and bipartisan piece of legislation is one such step.”