In an email, Kathleen Hogan says the company’s top leaders were “embarrassed and appalled” when they heard about scantily clad female dancers at the Xbox-hosted party.
The appearance of scantily clad female dancers at an Xbox event this week was “unacceptable in terms of how we treat women and how we represent Microsoft,” Kathleen Hogan, the Redmond company’s human resources chief, said in an email to employees on Saturday.
Hogan’s email comes after the company was criticized for the appearance of dancers in schoolgirl outfits, apparently hired to entertain guests at a party the company’s Xbox unit hosted on the sidelines of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
The scene, which came to light in social media posts Friday, highlighted for some the history of sexism in the video game business, along with the male-dominated technology industry’s struggles to build a more diverse workforce.
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The images emerged as Microsoft’s senior leadership team, the company’s dozen senior leaders, and other executives were wrapping up a two-day annual planning retreat at a resort in central Washington.
“When we heard about this and saw the photos, the entire Senior Leadership Team was embarrassed and appalled,” Hogan said in her email. “We are not going to tolerate this.”
The group within Microsoft’s legal team responsible for looking into breaches of company policy was investigating the event, Hogan said.
Hogan, appointed to the HR post at the end of 2014, also forwarded to all Microsoft employees the note Xbox chief Phil Spencer sent to his team on Friday. Hogan said she had heard from many employees directly and on the company’s Yammer social networking service after the event.
“It is not a stretch to say that the company as a whole is shocked and upset, and that we all are determined that this is never repeated,” Hogan said.
Read the rest of Hogan’s email below:
From: Kathleen Hogan
Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2016 3:56 PM
To: Microsoft – All Employees; Retail: All FTE
Subject: Microsoft Values & Commitment
I’m sharing Phil Spencer’s mail about the party Microsoft sponsored Thursday evening in San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference. When we heard about this and saw the photos, the entire Senior Leadership Team was embarrassed and appalled.
This is unacceptable in terms of how we treat women and how we represent Microsoft, and it undermines the culture we are working so hard to cultivate – one that is diverse and inclusive and grounded in a growth mindset.
We are not going to tolerate this. I appreciate that we will be judged by our deeds, and not just our words. And yet every day, we see our people taking important and meaningful steps forward in our journey towards inclusion. As one example, at this same Game Developers Conference we had dedicated and passionate Microsoft employees sponsoring a Gaming 4 Everyone event.
I have heard from many of you individually and on Yammer that you can’t believe we let this happen. It is not a stretch to say that the company as a whole is shocked and upset, and that we all are determined that this is never repeated. In addition to what Phil says, Microsoft’s Employee Relations Investigations Team is involved to make sure we have a full understanding of what happened. And beyond this incident, we are strengthening our commitment to our diversity and inclusion efforts, while evaluating where we must take stronger action to show we are more resolute than ever to make progress and hold ourselves accountable.