Microsoft Vows 'Comprehensive Review' of Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Bill Gates
12:25 GMT 14.01.2022 (Updated: 13:27 GMT 06.08.2022)
In March 2020, Bill Gates resigned from Microsoft ahead of the completion of the company's probe into sexual harassment allegations against him related to the year 2000.
Microsoft has pledged to review its handling of sexual harassment allegations against some of its top executives, including co-founder Bill Gates
, and release a report to this effect.
The company announced that the review would be conducted by the independent law firm Arent Fox, with the findings expected to be released this spring.
Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella stressed in a statement on Friday that the firm's "culture remains our number one priority and the entire board appreciates the critical importance of a safe and inclusive environment for all Microsoft employees".
"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 said.
According to Microsoft, Arent Fox's review will be followed by Microsoft's transparency report, which will summarise the results of investigations into Gates and other senior officials.
Microsoft executives described the report as a document that "will assess the steps that have been taken to hold employees, including executives, accountable for sexual harassment or gender discrimination".
The announcement comes after The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported last year that Microsoft Corp. board members decided in 2020 that it was unacceptable for Gates to remain on the board while they investigated the billionaire's previous improper romantic relationship with a female Microsoft employee.
"Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000. A committee of the board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern", the company’s spokesman was cited by the WSJ as saying at the time.
Gates resigned in March 2020 before the board's probe was completed, but his spokeswoman insisted that the decision to step down "was in no way related to this matter".
She argued that "in fact, he had expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier".
In 2021, Gates grabbed global headlines after the news about his divorce from his wife Melinda broke in May of that year.
Media reports at the time argued that Melinda Gates had always been irked by the relationship between her soon-to-be ex-spouse and financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a New York City prison in August 2019 while awaiting trial over charges of running a sex trafficking network of minors.
Also last year, Gates admitted in an interview with CNN that he had made a "huge mistake to spend time" with Epstein and "give him the credibility".