Over a six-year period, Microsoft upheld only one of the 118 gender discrimination complaints it received from female employees, according to court filings, Reuters reported on Tuesday. In total, the company received 238 complaints of discrimination or sexual harassment between 2010 and 2016, the court filings say.
A pedestrian walks a sign on Microsoft Headquarters campus 17 July 2014 in Redmond, Washington. Photo: Stephen Brashear (Getty)
Microsoft is being sued by several former employees who allege that the company routinely held back women in its workforce by denying raises and promotions. The employees are seeking class action status, and if they receive it, the case could include thousands of Microsoft’s US-based female engineers.
Microsoft isn’t the only tech company to be accused of wage discrimination – Google is currently facing a similar lawsuit.
Microsoft has denied that it engaged in wage discrimination and noted in court filings that it spends $US55 million ($70 million) each year on diversity and inclusion efforts. According to its most recent diversity report, Microsoft’s workforce is nearly 26 per cent female (compared to 31 per cent at Google or 32 per cent at Apple). The software giant also claims that its female employees earn equal wages to its male employees. “Today, for every $1 earned by men, our female employees in the US earn $1.000 dollars at the same job title and level,” the company says.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Microsoft case said that the company’s investigative response to discrimination complaints was “lacklustre” and that the sheer number of complaints was “shocking”.
“Diversity and inclusion are critically important to Microsoft. We want employees to speak up if they have concerns and we strive to make it easy for them to do so. We take all employee concerns seriously and have a fair and robust system in place to investigate employee concerns and take appropriate action when necessary,” a spokesperson for Microsoft said.
Most companies don’t release internal statistics about harassment and discrimination complaints, so it’s difficult to compare Microsoft’s complaint statistics to other companies. An investigation into harassment and discrimination at Uber, prompted by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler’s revelations about the workplace culture there, found 54 complaints of discrimination and 47 of sexual harassment. Uber has more than 12,000 employees, while Microsoft employs about 74,000 people in the US.