In late March, an email chain began circulating around Microsoft through its various departments, including Xbox. The email chain allowed women within the company to share stories of various cases of sexual harassment and inequality within the company, such as one woman stating she had been told to sit on someone’s lap in front of Human Resources. A woman in a technical role said her only responsibilities were booking meeting rooms, making dinner arrangements, and taking meeting notes. The emails mentioned lewd comments, massively unequal pay, and more. Perhaps most telling, however, is the repeated theme of reports having been made to HR but mostly ignored.
“We did a roundtables with the women when I was in Xbox core [team] & every woman, except for 1, had been called a b*** at work,” one Microsoft employee wrote according to Quartz, which obtained the email chain and originally reported it. “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 & Azure. This is a Microsoft thing, a common one.”
This past week, after the emails had become public, women in the company joined together to protest treatment to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft’s chief people officer, Kathleen Hogan, who had been responding to the email chain since it went public, has been trying to keep on top of discussions with everyone involved as she “personally looks into the allegations.”
“I discussed this thread with [senior management] today,” Hogan wrote in an email. “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.”
Hogan has set up meetings with Nadella and Microsoft’s chief diversity officer, as well as invited anyone to email her directly with any concerns. While Microsoft has not said exactly what their plan of action is yet, the company does appear to be dealing with the accusations seriously.