Microsoft CEO joins dialogue about sexual-harassment claims after internal email discussion

Key Points
  • Microsoft has not had any prominent #MeToo-related executives departures.
  • Women held less than 20 percent of the leadership roles at Microsoft as of June 30.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, leaves after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) for the Tech for Good summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 23, 2018.
Mustafa Yalcin | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Microsoft executives spoke with employees on Thursday about new allegations that surfaced in an email thread about how the company has mistreated women. 

Sexual harassment has been involved in the departures of executives at Alphabet, Amazon and Uber. But Microsoft has not connected any executive departures with sexual misconduct in the recent past.

Quartz first reported on the email conversation on Thursday. The article says one employee pointed to issues in the group working on Microsoft's high-priority Azure public cloud, among other company units. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the company addressed the email conversation with employees.

"As mentioned earlier in the thread, Lindsay-Rae (our Chief Diversity Officer) will be setting up sessions the week of April 22 to ensure we hear and are clear on the feedback, and determine what initiatives or programs to keep/stop/start based on input from this community," Kathleen Hogan, the company's executive vice president for human resources, wrote in a message on the email chain, according to a Microsoft spokesman.

"Invites for these sessions will be sent to all women's community groups next week, will accommodate multiple time zones, and joining Lindsay-Rae will be Erin Chapple; Co-Exec Sponsor of the Women's Community at Microsoft. While I do want to create a forum for the community on the thread, I also read and agree with the comments that for us to solve this as a company, the burden does not reside only with us women."

The emails came up on Thursday in a monthly employee question-and-answer session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

"It was a powerful dialogue," the spokesman said. Around 100 to 150 people attended the session in person, not including those who followed along online, according to Wired.

In 2015 former Microsoft employee Katie Moussouris filed a class-action lawsuit against the company that alleged Microsoft had a "continuing policy, pattern and practice of sex discrimination against female employees in technical and engineering roles ("female technical employees") with respect to performance evaluations, pay, promotions, and other terms and conditions of employment." The case is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In 2017, following the rise of the #MeToo movement documenting sexual harassment in the workplace, Hogan and Nadella sent an email to employees that highlighted ways to get help, the Seattle Times reported.

Women held 19.7 percent of the leadership roles inside Microsoft as of June 30, up from 17.5 percent three years earlier, according to the company's most recent diversity report.

Read the full Quartz report here.

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