Potentially explosive leaked email chain details issues female employees have to contend with at Microsoft, including sexual harassment
Although many tech companies like to try to show a progressive exterior to the outside world, it’s well known that females in the industry face an uphill challenge in comparison to their male counterparts. Issues in regard to the struggle for equal pay and fair promotion have already been well documented, and now a new email chain that has been leaked from Microsoft clearly demonstrates how the obstacles women have to face in the technology industry still remain firmly in place.
Some of the more startling stories that employees have been describing in the email chain will make for uncomfortable reading for those that believe their workplace is an equal one. One Microsoft Partner wrote about how she was twice asked to sit on someone’s lap during a business meeting, regardless of her refusal. Another female worker mentioned how she had been called a “bitch” on more than one occasion and then discovered many of her co-workers had also been labeled with the derogatory insult.
As well as the humiliating and offensive examples above, female employees have also complained about general sexist behavior. One person commented how even though she was employed in a technical role, on one project her duties were clearly secretarial: booking rooms, taking notes etc. Arguably, the most disquieting report made in the leaked email chain from Microsoft was from a woman who claimed she had to deal with both sexual harassment and the threat of violence.
According to her email, the employee said a worker from a partner company for Microsoft threatened to kill her if she didn’t agree to his sexual overtures while on a work trip. When the woman raised the issue with her male manager, she was told that the man who made the inexcusable comments was just “flirting” and that she should “get over it”.
Apparently, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is aware of the content of the email chain, as is the company’s Executive VP for human resources and Chief People Officer, Kathleen Hogan. Hogan has said she is “appalled” by the experiences suffered by many of Microsoft’s female employees and will be investigating the situation. Both Nadella and Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith were listed as recipients of the explosive and potentially damaging email chain.