As many stories in the news and the #MeToo movement have shown, sexual harassment in the workplace is a problem in American society with newfound attention. This is why Microsoft today announced they have become the first Fortune 100 company to endorse a bipartisan Senate bill addressing sexual harassment.
In a post penned by Microsoft President Brad Smith, the Redmond giant writes about the hope of endorsement ensuring "that people’s concerns about sexual harassment can always be heard." Introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Lindsey Graham, Microsoft is also saying the bill "ensure that every person facing sexual harassment in the workplace can make their case in a public court, rather than solely behind closed doors in private arbitration."
After thinking about this legislation, Microsoft also reflected on their own practices, and if they could be changed. The company found that a small segment of their employees have contractual clauses requiring pre-dispute arbitration for harassment claims. As a result, Microsoft will be waiving the contractual requirement for arbitration of sexual harassment claims in their own arbitration agreements for employees who have the requirement.
It's great to see Microsoft stepping up, supporting this Senate bill, and taking action to address their practices internally. Being the leader they are, this means other tech giants might as well likely follow in their footsteps. Definitely one step forward in addressing a large problem that is plaguing our society.