Microsoft board investigated Bill Gates alleged ‘affair’

The billionaire’s rep denies he resigned over the allegations

Microsoft board investigated Bill Gates alleged ‘affair’

Microsoft founder Bill Gates resigned from the company board in 2020 after directors decided to investigate claims that the tech billionaire “sought to initiate an intimate relationship” with a female software engineer. However, a representative for Gates denied the allegations that his departure was connected with the probe.

Senior leaders purportedly viewed the affair as being “inappropriate”. The board then hired a law firm to examine the claims of the employee who sent them a letter detailing her supposed romantic relationship with Gates, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Read more: Sexual harassment scandals put HR centre stage

“Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” company spokesperson Frank X. Shaw said. “A committee of the Board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern.”

However, in March 2020, before the probe was completed and a decision could be made, Gates announced he was stepping down from the boards of Microsoft and holding company Berkshire Hathaway. Back then, the billionaire philanthropist said he wanted to devote more time to his work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Read more: Employers urged to rethink handling of sexual harassment allegations

Bridgitt Arnold, a representative of the founder, said his decision to “transition off the board was in no way related to this matter” and that he had “expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier”. Regarding accusations that Gates had formed romantic ties at work, the spokeswoman confirmed he had been involved in an affair that “ended amicably”. Earlier this month, Gates and his wife Melinda announced they were divorcing.

In a separate report from The New York Times, details of Gates’ supposed behaviour towards female employees at Microsoft and the Gates Foundation came to light. An employee – who came forward to the Times – shared an email from 2006, in which Gates allegedly asked her out to dinner. The message read: “If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened.”

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