Microsoft is investigating claims that its human resources department overlooked sexual harassment claims made by female employees, according to a news report.
Quartz reports that an email chain that initially started when one female employee sent an email to another asking for advice on how to advance in the company turned into a wide-ranging discussion on sexual harassment that spanned more than 90 pages.
The chain started on March 20, 2019, and grew from there as dozens of women detailed the alleged abuse, which ranged in scope from sexist comments on work trips to sitting on coworker's laps. One woman said she had been given tasks such as booking conference rooms, taking notes and making dinner reservations, despite holding a technical position.
A separate woman also said she had been called a "bit*h" more than once.
“We did a roundtables [sic] with the women when I was in Xbox core [team] & every woman, except for 1, had been called a bit*h at work,” the Microsoft employee wrote in the email chain seen by Quartz. “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.”
Eventually, Microsoft's head of human resources, Kathleen Hogan, replied on March 29 and said she raised the issue with senior leadership and would personally look into the allegations, a company spokesperson told Fox News.
“I discussed this thread with the [senior leadership team] today. We are appalled and sad to hear about these experiences," Hogan wrote in the email. "It is very painful to hear these stories and to know that anyone is facing such behavior at Microsoft. We must do better."
She continued: "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 [senior leadership team] 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."
This story has been updated with a comment from Microsoft.