Microsoft Upheld Less Than 1 Percent of Gender Discrimination Complaints by Female Employees, Court Documents Say

A pedestrian walks a sign on Microsoft Headquarters campus July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.
A pedestrian walks a sign on Microsoft Headquarters campus July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.
Photo: Stephen Brashear (Getty)

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.

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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 $55 million each year on diversity and inclusion efforts. According to its most recent diversity report, Microsoft’s workforce is nearly 26 percent female (compared to 31 percent at Google or 32 percent 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 U.S. 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 “lackluster” 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.

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Updated at 2:00 p.m. with a statement from Microsoft.

Kate Conger is a senior reporter at Gizmodo.

DISCUSSION

schrodingersrap
schrodingersrap

I work for a large corporation, and needed to go to HR for the first time for 10 years.

My company did a bit of a department shuffle. I was given a new title, which was essentially a demotion in terms of pay and responsibilities when compared to the industry. (I was underpaid by national average for my old title, so they downgraded my title to match my pay) My lead was fired, I was given his responsibilities, and when I asked for a conservative promotion I was shot down. All of my annual reviews have been above expectations, my employer couldn’t give me a reason to NOT give me the title I was asking for, other than they just wouldn’t be making any changes.

Fine, I decided I would go to HR and request a description for my job title, and the job titles ranking above mine. HR initially told me they would provide it, and would email it to me later that night. I received an email from a separate rep than the one I spoke with informing me “We don’t typically send out job descriptions upon request.”

I’ve always heard the saying “HR is there to protect the company, not the employees” but it was a rude awakening to experience it firsthand.

My anecdotal experience though is just to illustrate a point, that I’d be surprised if any large corporation upheld more than 1% of it’s discrimination complaints, gender or otherwise. It is in every companies best financial/capitalist interest to shut down all of those cases unless they have merit that is far beyond a reasonable doubt.

I’ve begun to loathe human resources in general, it’s like a political ethics committee, it’s just there for show.