Did Microsoft HR Ignore Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Complaints?

Microsoft has over 130,000 employees, so it’s not at all surprising that there are bad employees in that bunch. Most companies have them. But, Quartz says they have an email chain from “dozens of women” detailing incidents where they felt discriminated against or that someone sexually harassed them and HR dropped the ball.

As I’ve said before, bad HR is why we can’t have nice things. While it’s true that HR is never the final decision maker, it’s also true that finance is never the final decision maker either, but we expect that the CFO has enough power to make her decisions stick and that the CEO listens to her. Why does HR get overridden so often? Why does HR not stand up for (at a bare minimum) following the law?

Some of the stories include requests to make dinner reservations, which is (on its face) not discriminatory but could be part of a pattern of discrimination. But, some are horrifying, such as “to being told to sit on a coworker’s lap in front of a human resources leader.” (Emphasis is mine.)

Even an HR intern should be confident enough to speak up at the moment and say, “hey, not appropriate.” 

To keep reading, click here: Did Microsoft HR Ignore Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Complaints?

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8 thoughts on “Did Microsoft HR Ignore Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Complaints?

  1. Again the article brings up a good point about appropriate behavior whether verbal or physical in any work environment. The full facts of the incident are not disclosed, so there’s limited information to base a decision on type of disciplinary action for either of these two individuals. I am sure HR will send out a blanket announcement warning concerning harassment of any kind and how “confidential” HR will be towards reports of these incidents. Let’s hope this gets resolved properly.

    1. Yes, they’ll send the blanket announcement…which means the specific people that really need a talking to won’t realize the “announcement” is for them. And people that truly are guilty of infractions don’t get the discipline or specific coaching they should. And victims feel like the guilty all just get a slap on the wrist. Blanket reminders have their place, but unless employees see the guilty actually facing discipline, or policies actually being overhauled, the problem persists and we’ll STILL be talking about this.

  2. Although is true, HR sometimes do not look at incidents carefully. There are often times where HR gets overridden especially if the alleged harasser is an executive or an employee who bring in a lot of profits for the company. It is sad but sometimes these actions get overlooked.

  3. I believe that HR professionals are people. As people, they are flawed, sometimes weak-willed, lacking in courage and professionalism, and sometimes afraid of retaliation from a powerful senior leader. As people, they also have children to raise, mortgages to pay and meals to cook, all of which require an income. Toxic environments are tough for everyone and HR is not all powerful to change things. Power matters and some folks just don’t have the ability to speak out and support victims, because they need their jobs to support their families. Being ethical and courageous has a high financial cost, sometimes even ending one’s career.

    Furthermore, we don’t always know how people advocate for victims. HR is not all-powerful, and their role/input may be minimized due to structure and reporting relationships.

    No, I’m not in HR. But I have been the victim of inappropriate and illegal retaliatory behavior. The personal cost for my courage is high. Six months later, I am still out of work and may lose my career. The HR professional, aware of the behavior, is still employed, still able to provide for her family. But who knows? Maybe she can’t sleep at night.

    Life is incredibly unfair. Sometimes it’s better just to move on and make do with the crap we are given.

    1. Sorry that happened to you. Same thing happened to me as well. It sucks, but sometimes moving on is the best thing that you can do for yourself.

    2. Reality is most HR “professionals” are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to academic achievement and intelligence. Almost every company I’ve worked at they’ve just been despicable people who take the side of management no matter what, and end up hurting good staff and help cove up bad or illegal behavior. At the same time, the arrogant attitudes (clearly based on insecurity) are astonishing. It’s no wonder this is such a despised field.

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