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Microsoft emails detail sexual harassment and discrimination – prompting Satya Nadella response

An internal email chain at Microsoft that details allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace of women, reported for the first time by Quartz on Thursday, has continued to grow and drive responses from senior leaders, according to more than 90 pages of emails reviewed by KUOW.

Three additional sources from Microsoft confirmed the authenticity of the emails.

In one of the emails, a woman said that her male co-workers called her "whore" in the face. (Others said they witnessed and experienced the same thing). Another said that they asked her to sit in the lap of a man, in front of people with human resources. A third woman described "hardships to mothers" as a reason for not being able to make progress in Microsoft.

The email chain began on March 20 with the request of a woman's advice to 18 women's groups within the company: she was frustrated feeling that she could not advance within Microsoft while observing her colleagues within the progress of the "club" children's".

"This frustration has been going on for at least three or more years," he wrote.

The woman's email was first received with encouragement and offers of support for professional development and ideas on how to better track the data on hiring and retaining employees.

More answers arrived. One woman said she felt she had to be an "unpleasant person" to get credit for her work, "or be a good person and be treated as a & # 39; recruitment of diversity & # 39;".

"We all have stories of our work at a discount," another woman wrote. "We are all worried about being fired if we speak out loud." Others wrote that they modified their behavior to be treated fairly by the "children's club".

Then, more disturbing stories began to spill from the thread. "Recently I had the luck to change roles, but the men in my last group did not really think of calling me a bitch in the face," one woman wrote. "As far as I know, nothing was ever done to solve this." Others said they witnessed or experienced the same thing.

One woman wrote that she was asked to sit in the lap of a colleague twice in a meeting, in front of Human Resources and other executives. "I just opposed and cited Microsoft's policy," he wrote. "The person said he did not have to listen and repeated the request a second time."

Another woman said that she was sexually harassed during a work trip where a man threatened to kill her if she did not give him sexual favors; She said she reported to management, but was told that "it seemed like he was just flirting."

At one point, even Satya Nadella, CEO, was copied in the thread.

On Friday, nine days after the e-mail thread began, Kathleen Hogan of HR responded to the thread, saying she had discussed the e-mails with the senior leadership team.

"We are horrified and sad to hear these experiences," he wrote. "It's very painful to hear these stories and know that anyone is facing this kind of behavior at Microsoft, we should do better." Hogan said she would be organizing sessions the week of April 22 to hear comments and encouraged people to communicate with her. directly.

After Hogan responded, more women shared stories of their careers at Microsoft that were suspended or backed down by having children or caring for sick parents. "Mom's grief stories," a woman called him. Some also highlighted the positive experiences they had with male managers who wanted to improve the way they manage subordinates.

A woman told a Microsoft employee who joked with other workers that she would stay in her room during a trip; She told another story about a senior consultant who happened in front of a Spanx store and told her that if she wanted to "try a little Spanx, I would tell you if they looked good".

Another woman said she had been sexually harassed by two different men, but the head of human resources in Seattle said, "Well, what will you do differently now so that this does not happen again?" And "I mean, I think you only have to think if you go to a social or other event in the future."

During the monthly question and answer session of the general director Satya Nadella with the employees on Thursday, the women expressed their concerns about the issue. "He said it was a top priority on the agenda," a Microsoft employee told KUOW.

While Nadella answered questions during the Q + A, the backlash of the email appeared in the company's Yammer, an internal source of social networks.

One woman wrote that Asian and white men experienced "systemic discrimination" at Microsoft because of a 2016 policy to link executive bonds with diversity goals.

"We have a permanent policy of giving executives more money if they have fewer white and Asian men in their organization," he wrote. Some rejected it, although some men came to the commentator's defense.

In an email to all employees, Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft's vice president of communications, recognized Yammer's email string and thread, and urged employees to see the Q + A. He wrote:

"In the discussion, Satya and Kathleen were committed to addressing the issues that arose in the email, including better data transparency, training and awareness of managers and employees, the process, speed and transparency when submit complaints, and a part-time exam, pay equality. "

By Thursday afternoon, more emails were still being added to the original thread. A Jewish woman wrote that she was being sexually harassed by men with whom she worked, and after rejecting one who made passes, told her that he could see her as a "witch who burned himself in the Holocaust."

In 2015, a cybersecurity expert and a former employee of Microsoft filed a lawsuit for gender discrimination against Microsoft. Later two other women joined, but they were denied class action status in 2018. The plaintiffs have appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

Paige Browning and Isolde Raftery contributed the story.

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