Microsoft sued for gender discrimination


Table of Contents

Microsoft is a vibrant technology giant established firm based in Redmond, Washington. The company was accused of gender discernment by a female formally working for the company (Mundy, 2015). The woman’s name was Katie Missouri’s. Katie alleged that she and fellow female employees were unfairly discriminated. Katie had been diligently working for the company for seven years as a manager in security program (Rao, 2015). Despite being qualified for promotion, she has not been promoted for all that time. Failure to promote her is contrary to the organization culture which seeks to promote equality as well as inclusiveness in the workplace. Katie also alleged that other male workers with less qualification have always been promoted living her hopelessly.

Also, the female earned less salary than their male counterparts. Among the values and cultures of the organization was to support innovations by providing a conducive workplace environment. The values were annulled because the promotion was not done on merit while salaries were not equated (PETERSON, 2016). Promotion should have been based on competitiveness as the culture of the organization dictates. According to her information on the filed suit, the company has relied on discriminative policies against women which violate the law (Romeo, 2014). The lawsuit quoted ‘stack ranking’ where individual junior managers and employees are ranked in certain performance levels. The ranking is done subjectively irrespective of whether they have performed differently or not (Mundy, 2015). At the same time, the ranking also favored men than women thereby widening the disparity between men and women in a workforce.

The company was said to have used the same biased ranking in the year 2014 to promote, compensate and evaluate employees (O’Brien, 2015). The repeated culture of ‘stack ranking’ does not value individual performances and thus demotivating to hardworking and meticulous employees. The suit also included the fact that, female technical workforce were granted lower scores compared to their male counterparts. Missouri’s’ attorney further declared the ranking system as artificial and undesirable. The system according to the lawyer was a tool of isolating employees into winner and losers (O’Brien, 2015). The culture of willingness to support new ideas and innovations as well as creating cohesiveness in working place was negated. The attorney’s assertion was that there was no any performance based institution that was supposed create divisions among the employees.

In a separate occasion, Katie made internal protests that, her bosses were sexually harassing her fellow female contemporaries.  Katie named one man who was heading a trustworthy group of harassing fellow women in the group in 2008 (Heimann and Bernstein, 2015). Microsoft management confirmed these claims, and instead of handling the case, they reassigned the accused man. Thus, the cultural values of integrity, molarity, respects and rights of women were annulled. The feeling of identity that is promoted by the culture of promoting rights and privileges for women was contradicted. Katie’s values were not compromised irrespective of the fact that she had no control of the entire situation. Katie’s attorney asserted that the same man had been promoted to the position of a senior director (O’Brien, 2015). She further alleged that Microsoft management found the allegations factual but failed to reassign her (Heimann and Bernstein, 2015). Instead, she was given a low bonus, and her responsibilities were diminished within the course of time. Although she reported to her superiors, the complaint was not acted upon (O’Brien, 2015).

The culture of amiability, openness, and freedom of airing views and ideas was violated because she ought to have been heard and the claims investigated. Katie also says that she failed to be promoted, yet she deserved because she was on maternity leave. The feeling of identity as well as ability to retain her in the institution were diminishing due to a series of frustrations (Romeo, 2014). This position was given to a less qualified man. Despite having the distinguished academic achievement and valuable experience, she left the company in 2014 to seek employment elsewhere (Rao, 2015). She is currently the leading policy officer at cyber-security startup referred to as HackerOne.

Values like decency, innovativeness, and optimism made Katie acquire a new position where she could demonstrate her ability to lead. She further added that the decision-making policies and patterns were entirely against women. The organization policies negated the principles of equality and fairness. By that time, Microsoft management was 88% male while the other employees constituted 76% male (O’Brien, 2015). However, Microsoft insisted that they were dedicated to not only diverse but inclusive workforce that values men and women. The response was from Microsoft CEO. He asked that the company’s culture was not only vital but was evolving (Romeo, 2014). According to management, the allegations were not factual and that they would review the claims to determine the validity.


Cultures are collective values, goals, understanding and assumptions that learned from earlier generations but are acceptable in the current generations. Such values are collectively shared and embraced by organization members (SCHEIN, E. H. (2016). They include sensitivity and thoughtfulness to others. For instance, the chauvinist beliefs that female are supposed to earn less than their female counterpart demonstrate the lack of sensitivity to other people rights and privileges. Organization culture also involves willingness and commitment to adopt new ideas and take calculated risks (EDMONDS, 2014). Organization with toxic, people, feel segregated and unappreciated while in a great organization cultures, people feel inspired and well treated (CAMERON, 2011). Failure to appreciate Katie’s abilities simply because she was a woman made her feel unappreciated and segregated and hence left the organization.

Organization culture that does not value women may be a toxic culture that may undermine the organization short and long terms goals (CAMERON, 2011). The fundamental cultural initiative is significant to an organization because it makes an organization flourish and adjust to unexpected situations in future. It also improves communication, friendliness, amiability and openness in an organization (EDMONDS, 2014). Unequal salaries and undeserved promotions are likely going to create divisions among employees which may halt its development. Organization culture is the face of an organization. It should seek to motivate and retain staff and affords the feelings of identity to employees (EDMONDS, 2014). This story of discrimination against women serves as a symbol that transmits organization culture in a negative way. People feels that the organization should portray integrity and healthy habits to maximize their potential.


From this story, men are more than women in both administrative position as well as among the employees. At the same time, Katie has proved that he has high academic qualification as well as other abilities than most of the men. There is also inequality regarding pay and promotions when it comes to men and women (JEANES, 2011). Widening the gap of payments between men and women is a form of gender discrimination (Rao, 2015). Similarly, administrative positions should be competitive other than discriminative. Women like Katie are capable of leading and organization and thus deserved to be promoted based on their abilities (JEANES, 2011).

Although women are the ones vested with the responsibilities of taking care of children and serving their families, it should not be used as an excuse to deny them promotion. Also, maternity leave should not be used to prohibit promotion or pay women less than men (RUNYAN and PETERSON, 2014). Women like Katie deserved the promotion after coming back from leave because she was qualified and thus deserved to be given the position (O’Brien, 2015). Women should not be seen as passive, emotional, sensitive and fragile. They are also rational, aggressive and active just as men area. There is also no difference between female managers and male ones. In fact, some female managers are more analytical and thus can be more efficient managers. In our case, Katie refuses to be silent in both moral and professional crisis meaning that, she is competent, wise and strong. She also demonstrates that she can challenge sexual stereotyping in a court of law and also fight against biased culture.

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  1. CAMERON, K. S., & QUINN, R. E. (2011). Diagnosing and changing organizational culture: based on the competing values framework. San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass.
  2. EDMONDS, S. C., & BLANCHARD, K. H. (2014). The culture engine: a framework for driving results, inspiring your employees, and transforming your workplace.
  3. Heimann, L.C. and Bernstein (2015) Microsoft gender discrimination class action lawsuit.
  4. JEANES, E. L. (2011). Handbook of Gender, Work, and Organization. Chichester, West Sussex, Wiley.
  5. Mundy, J. (2015) Microsoft accused of discrimination against women.
  6. O’Brien, S.A. (2015) Microsoft sued for gender discrimination.
  7. PETERSON, H. (2016). Gender in transnational knowledge work. Switzerland, Springer.
  8. Rao, L. (2015) Microsoft hit with gender discrimination suit. Romeo, J. (2014)
  9. 2014 women in IT security: Katie Moussouris.
  10. RUNYAN, A. S., & PETERSON, V. S. (2014). Global gender issues in the new millennium.
  11. SCHEIN, EDGAR H. (2016). Organization Culture and Leadership. John Wiley & Sons Inc.
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