Microsoft promises transparency in sexual harassment cases

Xbox platform holder will eliminate forced arbitration agreements in an effort to stop serial offenders

By James Batchelor.Published Wednesday 20th December 2017, 10:41am GMT

Microsoft has pledged to end the secrecy that often exists around claims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Many companies employ forced arbitration agreements to keep such cases out of court. This essentially hides them from the public to an extent, but sometimes allows serial offenders to continue their harassment for years.

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The New York Times reports that Microsoft is one of the first firms to drop these agreements.

The company's president and chief legal officer Brad Smith told the publication: "The silencing of people's voices has clearly had an impact in perpetuating sexual harassment."

Smith added that Microsoft is aware of and plans to support a proposed new law that will make it illegal to use forced arbitration agreements.

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Microsoft's decision to drop these is "largely symbolic" according to the NYT, as Smith reports only a minority of the company's staff have been in a position to require such agreements.

The news follows a major shift across all industries as the rising number of sexual harassment victims stepping forward has outed notable offenders - most famously, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The games industry has also seen more people coming forward and sharing their experiences, as we showcased earlier this year. Since then, various companies have taken a firm stance on the matter, ranging from IGDA's Zero Tolerance statement to IGN's promises of better support for its staff.

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