Microsoft shareholders vote for the company to publish sexual-harassment report, in rare win for activists

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  • Microsoft shareholders voted for a resolution backed by Arjun Capital at the company’s annual general meeting.
  • The move follows a board-level inquiry into the activities of co-founder Bill Gates nearly two decades ago.

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Microsoft shareholders approved a resolution Tuesday asking the board to publish a report on the effectiveness of its workplace sexual harassment policies in a rare vote of support for an activist initiative. The software and hardware maker’s board recommended that shareholders reject the proposal, but according to one it received 77.97 percent of all votes. regulatory filing,

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The decision comes a year and a half after Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates stepped down from his seat on the company’s board, following a report that Gates had tried to start a relationship with an employee in 2000, prompting an investigation by the board. Hui.

Like other large companies, Microsoft has sought to adjust its workforce following the escalation of the MeToo movement, as some employees reported experiencing harassment at the company. It has increased the percentage of males among its ranks and fired some employees following complaints.

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“While Microsoft has conducted prior internal investigations into allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, it has failed to transparently report any independent investigations to employees and investors,” the shareholder motion began, according to the company. Most recent proxy statement, “To avoid legal and reputational risk and maintain shareholder value, Microsoft must create a culture of accountability and transparency, protecting employees from harassment and discrimination.”

The proposal includes details of the investigation on officials including Gates, as well as the number of cases the company has seen and how they worked.

Microsoft said it had already planned to begin releasing reports every year on its implementation of the harassment and discrimination rules, an effort it said would largely cover the essence of the shareholder proposal. This includes details of the number of harassment cases, the percentage of them the company can certify and the ways in which it responds.

Arjun Capital, which regularly files shareholder resolutions, said Microsoft’s plans did not go far enough.

Natasha Lamb, co-founder and managing partner of Arjun Capital, said in a letter to investors, “The company’s pledge to begin annual public reporting on allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination ignores the need for independent and executive-level reporting on investigations.” does.”

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