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Microsoft says it is going through a review of its sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies and will hire an independent law firm to conduct the process. Specifically, legal company Arent Fox will look into the effectiveness of Microsoft’s policies and practices.

The company is taking the action following a shareholder resolution advisory during last year’s annual shareholders meeting. There has been growing concern regarding Microsoft’s policies and the culture that is forming at the company.

For example, dozens of claims regarding discrimination and sexual harassment stretching back years. The review will almost certainly cover the 2019 accusations of sexual harassment against Microsoft founder Bill Gates. While a board investigation followed that incident, the review will look into the actions of that investigation.

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“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 chairman and CEO Satya Nadella says about the review.

Arent Fox will be able to conduct its review completely independently because the firm “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”.     

Review

Areas where the review will focus include a 2018 class-action lawsuit and subsequent employee concerns regarding allegations of sexual harassment/ discrimination numbering 238 cases. These allegations cover a time period between 2010 and 2016. Furthermore, Arent Fox will look into what procedures Microsoft has to address those issues.

Furthermore, the firm will review Microsoft’s entire process including policies, commitments, and procedures for handling discrimination/harassment. Microsoft says a transparent public report will be made available when the review concludes.

“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,” Nadella adds. 

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