Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been known to author a lengthy company email or two when addressing organizational, structural or financial shifts within in the business, but today’s April 15, 2019, was drafted to highlight his displeasure with something far more egregious happening in Redmond.
Earlier today, Nadella penned an email that, in part, serves as a buttress to the long-standing HR issue the company has had addressing sexual harassment and discrimination.
As part of Nadella’s address, he offered to recommit by the company to do a better and more thorough job of investigating human resources disputes, changes to training of management, more transparency of the investigation, and additional support to employees during investigations by way of a new Employee Advocacy Team.
First, we will provide additional support and more information for employees who raise complaints about employee behavior. We will add HR professionals to enhance our listening capacity when issues are first raised. HR is also creating a new Employee Advocacy Team that will focus exclusively on assisting employees going through a workplace investigation, including helping employees understand the process, guiding them through investigations and following up after investigations are finished to check in on the employees involved.
Second, we will increase our ability to pursue investigations more quickly. We will centralize in CELA all investigations globally relating to significant complaints about work-related misbehavior. We will add investigators to this team to match the benchmarks we’ve recently used with other companies, with measurable goals aimed at shortening the median time of investigations to one month or less.
Third, we will promote more consistent disciplinary approaches across the company following an investigation. We recognize the importance not only of taking effective action following investigations but doing so consistently across the company. We will develop new company-wide disciplinary guidelines for work-related misbehavior. When an investigation is finished, we will provide a manager both a factual conclusion about the findings and the range of expected discipline.
Going forward, a manager will no longer be permitted to depart from the recommended range without the approval of a corporate vice president.
In addition, while we need to remain sensitive to privacy concerns, we will also create more transparency around the outcomes from these investigations.
After the process is finished, the employee who raised concerns will receive information about the investigation, including about the investigation’s factual conclusion and, at a minimum, generalized information about the discipline that followed.
Beginning in FY20, we will also publish, at least once a year, information across the company so all employees will have more information about the kinds of concerns being raised, how often we find a violation and the types of discipline we imposed.
Nadella goes on for a few more paragraphs to detail how additional transparency will operate in a new culture of support and accountability the company will adhere to going forward.
According to sources speaking with Quartz at Work, the email was a bit shock to both affected and unaffected Microsoft employees, despite a brimming level of harassment and discrimination happening within the company.
“Diversity and inclusion became part of our review process and most of my co-workers were completely stumped on what that meant/how to take action,” a Microsoft employee who received the email told Quartz. “Hopefully, those days are behind us and this call to action and this step by [the senior leadership team] will really mean something!”
Microsoft seemingly has a lot to atone for in its previous way of faulty handling of legitimate HR issues, but a letter of from the CEO to every employee acknowledging the company’s shortcomings is a great start.