In recent times, the issue of sexual harassment and gender discrimination has gained widespread attention. During this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, the matter that took Hollywood and the internet by storm was the focus with several Hollywood stars saluting the #MeToo movement.
In light of the movement, the Silicon Valley also had instances of sexual harassment being discussed with Uber at the receiving end of much unwanted attention due to a series of reports around the matter. The company is now going through an image makeover with CEO Dara Khosrowshahi taking over as the new leader.
The stream of elements brought attention to the tech industry’s dealing with reports of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. According to an email sent by Microsoft Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan to employees (posted on the official Microsoft website), the company paid close attention to the discussion around the matter. The email was aimed at lifting trust and confidence levels among employees in addressing these issues as well as the handling of complaints.
The email states that Microsoft became the first Fortune 100 company to give anyone alleging sexual harassment the chance to raise their concerns in a court of law, instead of behind closed doors in private arbitration.
Hogan shared data to set some context. She said, “We have over 65,000 employees in the U.S. Last fiscal year, we had 83 sexual harassment complaints.” These complaints included inappropriate gender-based jokes and unwanted physical contact. She added, “Out of those 83 harassment complaints, nearly 50 percent were found to be supported in part or in full following the investigation, and more than half of these resulted in termination of an employee who engaged in unacceptable behavior. Depending on the severity of the case there are a range of other disciplinary actions we take.”
Similarly, Hogan stated that there were 84 complaints of gender discrimination reported at Microsoft last year. 10 percent of those cases were found to be supported in part or in full. Microsoft took appropriate action in these cases too, she wrote. According to her email, gender discrimination accounts for instances where “work assignments are equitable, concerns about being excluded from meetings or training opportunities, as well as concerns about compensation, rewards or promotions based on gender.”