Technology

Microsoft responds to female harassment claims

Microsoft building Image copyright AFP
Image caption The email chain began with women sharing stories about Microsoft's glass ceiling

Microsoft has vowed to respond after female employees shared dozens of incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination.

News site Quartz said employees gathered 90 pages of testimony before Microsoft reacted.

The list was begun by women frustrated that many claims of harassment had been dismissed by human resources.

The list logged incidents in different divisions including coding teams for Windows, Xbox and cloud services.

Internal complaint

The log of harassment incidents began on 20 March during an email conversation between two women sharing information about how to break through the firm's glass ceiling.

The two shared stories of sexist behaviour which grew into a wider discussion which they shared with colleagues, and ultimately drew dozens of responses from all over the software firm.

Many of those contributing said they had reported incidents of discrimination and harassment to human resources, but no action was taken. The incidents involve demeaning language, sexist behaviour and requests to perform sexual acts.

Microsoft's head of HR Kathleen Hogan told Quartz that she would "personally" investigate all the claims being made in the email chain.

In addition, Ms Hogan told the tech news site The Verge, Microsoft would hold sessions from 22 April onwards to get feedback from women and work out what action was needed.

"We are appalled and sad to hear about these experiences," said Ms Hogan. "We must do better."

She added that the "burden" of solving the harassment problem did not reside solely with women.

The Verge pointed to Microsoft's previously poor record on harassment claims.

It linked to court records released in 2018 which revealed that 238 internal complaints had been filed at Microsoft from 2010 to 2016 about discrimination and harassment. Only one of the 118 complaints about sex discrimination was deemed worthy of investigation.

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