- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addressed controversies surrounding Bill Gates for the first time.
- “The Microsoft of 2021 is very different from the Microsoft of 2000,” Nadella said on CNBC Friday.
- Several unnamed Microsoft employees told NYT Gates’ behavior made them feel uncomfortable.
- Sign up for the 10 Things in Tech daily newsletter.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Friday addressed controversies surrounding the behavior of the company’s billionaire cofounder Bill Gates for the first time.
Nadella said Microsoft now prioritized diversity and inclusion and investigated issues raised by any employee regarding problems at work.
“The Microsoft of 2021 is very different from the Microsoft of 2000 to me and to everyone at Microsoft,” Nadella told CNBC’s Jon Fortt on Friday. “I feel that we have created an environment that allows us to really drive the everyday improvement in our diversity and inclusion culture, which I think is a super important thing and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Microsoft board members opened an investigation into Gates two years ago after an employee said she had a sexual relationship with the married billionaire in 2000 that spanned years, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. Gates stepped down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway last year to focus on philanthropy.
Several unnamed Microsoft employees told The New York Times Gates’ behavior made them feel uncomfortable at work. The reports came in the wake Gates and Melinda French Gates’ announcement that they were getting a divorce.
-CNBC (@CNBC) May 21, 2021
A spokesperson for Gates said in a statement to Insider that allegations the billionaire mistreated employees were false and that Gates had an affair 20 years ago that ended amicably. The spokesperson did not say whether the affair was with a Microsoft employee.
Nadella said Microsoft has had a policy in place since 2006 to disclose relationships at work.
“Overall, the power dynamic in the workplace is not something that needs to be abused in any form,” Nadella said on CNBC. “The most important thing is for us to make sure that everybody’s comfortable in being able to raise any issues they see and for us to be able to fully investigate it.”
Microsoft used to be known for having a high-pressure work environment and employing hostile executives. Since Nadella took the helm, he has worked to reform the culture at Microsoft by training senior managers in nonviolent communication and allowing employees to learn from mistakes instead of punishing them.
Microsoft was not immediately available for additional comment.