Multiple employees of Microsoft and the Gates Foundation have said that Bill Gates approached multiple women and made the workplace uncomfortable.
Bill Gates, software pioneer, billionaire, and philanthropist, will soon be legally single as his wife of 27 years, Melinda French Gates, has decided to end the marriage. Unfortunately, their marriage had broken down to a point of no return. While their divorce gets more and more attention, stories of Gates' indiscretions also come to light.
The break up of one of the most powerful and richest couples in the world had many reasons behind it. Melinda was concerned when it was revealed that her husband had meetings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, as per the Guardian. She consulted multiple lawyers to figure out options of divorcing the Microsoft co-founder. In 2019, she hired a team of lawyers from many high-profile law firms for this purpose, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Another report says that in 2019 Gates was investigated by his company. Microsoft’s board of directors, of which Gates was a part, launched an inquiry into a case after being notified that he had tried to have an "intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000," Frank X. Shaw, a Microsoft spokesman, told The New York Times. A law firm had been hired for the investigation. In 2020, Gates stepped down as a board member of the company.
"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," a company spokesman told NPR. "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," they added.
"There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably," said Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Gates, to The NYT. "Gates’s decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter," they added. "In fact, he had expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier," she told NPR.
However, a recent WSJ article said that Microsoft Corp. board members had decided that Gates should step down temporarily from its board in 2020 while the investigation was going on. The relationship with the female Microsoft employee was deemed inappropriate, people familiar with the matter said. Gates left his position on the board before the investigation could be completed, a source said.
Since the Gates' divorce was announced, there has been scrutiny on what was the reason behind their break up. NYT reported that many people said Gates had engaged in inappropriate work-related behavior while he was married and as the leader of a major publicly-traded company.
Arnold denied the negative characterization. "It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances, and the timeline of Bill Gates’s divorce," she said. "Your characterization of his meetings with Epstein and others about philanthropy is inaccurate, including who participated," she continued. "Similarly, any claim that Gates spoke of his marriage or Melinda in a disparaging manner is false. The claim of mistreatment of employees is also false. The rumors and speculation surrounding Gates’s divorce are becoming increasingly absurd, and it’s unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge of the situation are being characterized as 'sources.'"
However, Gates had reportedly pursued other women long after he married Melinda, whom he met at work, in 1994. In 2006, Gates, then the chairman of the company, apparently attended a presentation by a female Microsoft employee. After the meeting, he emailed the woman and asked her out for dinner, two sources told NYT. "If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened," Gates wrote in an email.
A year or two later, while on a trip to New York on behalf of the Gates Foundation, he told a woman who worked for the foundation, "I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me?" She said she felt uncomfortable but laughed to avoid responding. Other employees of Microsoft and the Gates Foundation have said that he made the workplace uncomfortable by approaching women.
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