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Microsoft responds to sexual harassment allegations within company

Microsoft has responded to our queries about the company's plans for acting on reports of sexual harassment being ignored by human resources.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

April 4, 2019

3 Min Read

Tech blog Quartz is reporting that Microsoft began its Thursday morning with an all-hands meeting regarding allegations that the company's HR department has been brushing off reports of sexual harassment and discrimination from women at Microsoft. 

According to a story from Dave Gershgorn, the meeting apparently addresses a long e-mail chain that began circulating on March 20th. Said chain has apparently expanded to women across the company sharing stories of inappropriate work behavior ranging from threats for not providing sexual favors to flat-out discrimination in career advancement. 

According to these women, after reporting their experiences to human resources, they apparently often received hostile or non-committal responses to their complaints. 

Game developers should be aware that some of the allegations do relate to the core Xbox team. Per Quartz, one employee described her experience on the Xbox team as such: "We did a roundtables with the women when I was in Xbox core [team] and every woman, except for one, had been called a bitch at work."

"Before people say this is just an Xbox thing (as I’ve heard that dismissiveness way too many times within Microsoft before) the other eng [engineering] orgs where my experiences happened were Windows and Azure. This is a Microsoft thing, a common one.”

When reached for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson supplied the following statement from Kathleen Hogan, executive VP of HR at the company. This statement was sent to recipients of the e-mail chain as well:

"I discussed this thread with the [senior leadership team] today. We are appalled and sad to hear about these experiences. It is very painful to hear these stories and to know that anyone is facing such behavior at Microsoft. We must do better. 

I would like to offer to anyone who has had such demeaning experiences including those who felt were dismissed by management or HR to email me directly. I will personally look into the situation with my team. I understand the devastating impact of such experiences, and the SLT wants to be made aware of any such behavior, and we will do everything we can to stop it. 

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. 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.

While reading some of this is very disheartening, I am proud and encouraged to see people empowered to speak up, say this is not right, and stand together for change. Thank you."

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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