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Microsoft has chosen a legislation agency to evaluate its sexual harassment and gender discrimination insurance policies, the corporate’s board introduced on Thursday, after shareholders raised alarms about how Microsoft and Invoice Gates, one in all its founders, had handled workers, particularly ladies.

The board stated it had chosen Arent Fox, primarily based in Washington, D.C. Microsoft stated the agency had by no means accomplished employment-related work for it up to now.

Shareholders handed a decision throughout the firm’s 2021 annual assembly to evaluate the insurance policies Microsoft has in place for its workers to guard them towards abuse and undesirable sexual advances.

The decision handed with assist from nearly 78 p.c of Microsoft’s shareholders. It was the one of 5 proposals on moral points put forth by shareholders to succeed. Others, like a name for a report on race- and gender-based pay gaps on the firm and a pledge to ban gross sales of facial recognition to authorities entities, failed.

“Microsoft is beneath intense public scrutiny on account of quite a few claims of sexual harassment and an alleged failure to deal with them adequately and transparently,” the textual content of the decision stated. “Studies of Invoice Gates’s inappropriate relationships and sexual advances towards Microsoft workers have solely exacerbated issues, placing in query the tradition set by prime management and the board’s function holding these culpable accountable.”

Mr. Gates solicited at the least two workers whereas he was operating Microsoft, in keeping with stories in The New York Occasions and The Wall Avenue Journal. In a single incident, in 2007, Mr. Gates sat by way of a presentation by a Microsoft worker, then instantly emailed her to ask for a date. Microsoft leaders later warned Mr. Gates to not do issues like that. In 2019, Microsoft’s board received a letter from an engineer claiming to have had a sexual relationship with Mr. Gates in 2000. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gates confirmed that the 2 had had an affair that “ended amicably.”

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief government, stated in an announcement on Thursday that office tradition was Microsoft’s “No. 1 precedence.”

“We’re dedicated not simply to reviewing the report however studying from the evaluation so we are able to proceed to enhance the experiences of our workers,” he stated.

Karen Weise contributed reporting.

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