Employers should periodically evaluate their harassment and discrimination policies to ensure compliance and find opportunities to improve. In January 2022, in the wake of multiple high-profile allegations of inappropriate conduct—including claims against Bill Gates—Microsoft commissioned an independent law firm to conduct a review of the effectiveness of its existing sexual harassment policies and gender discrimination policies. Microsoft took the unprecedented step of releasing this comprehensive report in November 2022 to the general public. All employers now have access to this 50-page report based on a nine-month review and investigation. The report contains valuable recommendations from which many employers would benefit. The complete final report can be found here.
Key Improvements Recommended in the Report
- Have the CEO sign the company’s anti-discrimination and harassment policies
- Revise anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies to provide examples and clarify what is expected from each party
- Require disclosure of certain consensual relationships within the workplace
- Adopt a formal procedure for a party to request reconsideration of an investigation’s findings
- Advise employees of the right to seek external relief if they desire
- Develop an effective tool to ensure that senior leaders that take required training on gender discrimination and sexual harassment
- Ask complainants to complete surveys about their investigation experience
- Establish Credible Transparency around Remedial Efforts
- Take steps to minimize a perception that senior leaders are not held accountable
- Coordinate data among the various HR teams and groups that investigate allegations of misconduct
- Make improvements in the investigation process
- Continue efforts to increase the percentage of women in senior leadership positions.