Microsoft Corp shareholder and activist. Arjuna Capital said it presented a resolution calling for a report on the “effectiveness of company policies on sexual harassment in the workplace” following allegations that co-founder Bill Gates sought to have inappropriate relationships with employees and sexual harassment.
By Dina Bass
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The group, which has lobbied big companies on issues such as gender pay gaps and race, suggested the board publish an annual report that would include the results of any investigation into the allegations against the executives, including Gates, and the steps taken to keep workers and leaders accountable. Microsoft typically schedules its annual meeting of shareholders in late November or early December.
“We urge Microsoft to independently investigate and address these issues transparently, as sexual harassment and gender discrimination can harm shareholder value – resulting in increased turnover, lower productivity, increased absenteeism and higher sick leave costs, ”the group wrote in the resolution, according to an emailed copy of the text.
Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw declined to comment on the shareholder proposal.
Microsoft chairman Brad Smith told Bloomberg Television this week that Gates, who remains an adviser to the company and meets with some employees in that capacity, would continue to play a role if that contact could be dealt with appropriately.
“You will see us continue to speak to Bill in an appropriate manner on the issues that matter,” Smith said.
After Gates announced that he and his wife, Melinda French Gates, are divorcing, reports have surfaced of potentially inappropriate conduct by the former executive towards Microsoft employees. The company said it received a complaint in 2019, while Gates was on Microsoft’s board of directors, that he attempted to form a romantic relationship with an employee in 2000. Microsoft’s board investigated, a investigation which the company says was not concluded because Gates resigned. as a director last year.
Smith also said a lot has changed at Microsoft around issues like sexual harassment over the past two decades. “The Microsoft of 2021 is very different from the Microsoft of the year 2000,” he said.
(Updates with Microsoft declined to comment in the fourth paragraph.)
–With help from Emily Chang.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-16 20:02:52