Bill Gates Was Reportedly Punished For Emailing Female Staffers

( )- Microsoft founder Bill Gates reportedly engaged in multiple inappropriate exchanges with female reporters during his tenure.

Recently, a 2019 letter that was sent from an engineer at Microsoft surfaced. It claimed that Gates, who exited the company’s board in that year, had an affair with a female employee.

More than 10 years before that, though, other executives at the company discovered emails Gates was sending another female employee at a mid-level position. This happened while Gates was the chairman of the board and still an employee at the company.

In the emails, Gates propositioned the employee and was very flirtatious with her. Gates, of course, was married at the time.

When those emails were discovered then, Gates had a meeting with Lisa Brummel, the company’s chief people officer, and General Counsel Brad Smith. Both of those top executives told Gates his behavior needed to stop since it was inappropriate.

Gates allegedly didn’t deny that the exchanges occurred, and assured the executives that he would stop doing it.

According to a Fox Business report, which cited people familiar with the matter, those executives then briefed other members of the Microsoft board. Ultimately, though, the board said that no further action was necessary since no physical interaction ever occurred.

Frank Shaw, a spokesman for Microsoft in 2008, said the company first became aware of those emails a year earlier. Not long after, Gates retired as a full-time employee of the company.

Shaw said that the emails showed that Gates had asked the female employee to meet him off campus and outside of work hours. Shaw further said the employee never filed a complaint about the emails.

He said:

“While flirtatious, [the emails] were not overtly sexual, but were deemed to be inappropriate.”

Gates has since denied those claims. Bridgitt Arnold, Gates’ spokeswoman, said in a written statement:

“These claims are false, recycled rumors from sources who have no direct knowledge, and in some cases have significant conflicts of interest.”

Gates stepped down as chairman of Microsoft in 2014 and resigned from his seat on the board in March of 2020. This year, Gates and his now ex-wife, Melinda, divorced after being married for 27 years.

When Gates retired from the board, a committee on the board hired a law firm to investigate a 2019 letter from a female engineer that alleged she had a prior sexual relationship with Gates. This is according to a Wall Street Journal report that was published in May of this year.

It’s a different woman than the one who Gates was claimed to have sent inappropriate emails to more than 10 years ago.

When the committee investigated the incident, John W. Thompson, who was the chair of the board at the time, asked members who were reviewing the letter not to share its existence with the full board.

This isn’t typically how an investigation like this is handled, though, as some lawyers who advise corporate boards have said. For example, David Berger, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, said:

“If you’re going to conduct an investigation that needs independent advisers, you need board approval.”