Microsoft shareholders have voted to tech companies to clarify more about handling sexual harassment allegations behind a recent incident and exposure that co-founder Bill Gates had a relationship with an employee. I overwhelmingly supported it.
The call represented a rare rebellion at Microsoft’s annual shareholders meeting, with 78% voting against management. Not to mention revealing the details of individual cases and resuming handling of cases from the previous year, but brought immediate promise from the company to increase transparency.
The shareholder rebellion followed years of complaints from several workers. Microsoft Brushing widespread claims of harassment under the carpet.
Arjuna Capital, which submitted a shareholder proposal to disagree with management, said Microsoft’s human resources department upheld only one claim against the group out of a total of 238 cases included in a class action alleging discrimination and harassment in 2012. Said that he did.
“Bill Gates’ improper relationships and reports of sexual progress to Microsoft employees only exacerbated concerns, the culture set by top leadership and the role of the board to hold them accountable. I am questioning. “
Earlier this year, Microsoft revealed that its board of directors hired an external group to investigate “intimate relationships” decades ago. Gates I spent time with my employees.Gates Get off From the board of directors before the investigation is completed. The results of the investigation have not been disclosed.
Shareholder votes hurt Microsoft’s reputation for investors focused on environmental, social and governance issues. According to the Bank of America, it is the most widely privately held ESG fund in the United States as of July. Shareholders haven’t opposed management for at least 2000, according to the ISS, a shareholder advisory firm.
Another sign of dissatisfaction among some shareholders is the sign of cracking, with previous unanimous support for CEO Satya Nadella and chief director John Thompson. Nadella’s 99.9% support for the re-election a year ago fell to 94.7% this year, while Thompson’s 99.1% support fell to 91.4%.
A few months after Nadella took on the additional role of chair, there was a decline in support. The Norwegian oil fund, which owns about 1% of Microsoft, has shown opposition to the integration of roles.
ISS and rival Glass Lewis urged investors to support Arjuna’s resolution, arguing that failure to effectively address sexual harassment allegations would damage their reputation and employment capacity and affect shareholders. rice field.
“There’s a new step we were thinking of,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, after voting. “I think the resolution and the dialogue we had helped move our decision forward.”
He said the company is collecting more information internally about harassment allegations and recognizes that it is also important for “shareholder interests” to disclose more.
As an example of future disclosures, Smith said he investigated 51 complaints in Microsoft’s past fiscal year and found 47% of the 142 cases surveyed the previous year, compared to 49%. rice field. He added that the reduction in complaints probably reflects the fact that more people are working from home.
Smith also said he would commission an independent review of how Microsoft would handle allegations of harassment and publish the results. But he couldn’t promise to adopt the recommendations, just saying “think hard” about making changes.
Smith said Microsoft will also publish details on the gender pay gap, even though shareholders have rejected another proposal on the issue. He added that publishing data in the UK is already necessary and will be extended globally.
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