It’s been just a couple of weeks since Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce and we’ve already learned quite a bit about the factors that may have contributed to the split. (Presumably thanks to Melinda Gates’s divorce lawyers and apparently dogged public relations team.)
On Sunday night, Bill Gates was the subject of exclusives from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Daily Beast, all of which discussed his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein—reportedly closer than he lead us to believe!—and his alleged inappropriate interactions with women he worked with.
According to the Times, Gates had developed a “reputation for questionable conduct in work-related settings” at both Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2019, he became the focus of an independent investigation at Microsoft after the company’s board of directors learned of a sexual relationship Gates allegedly had with a woman engineer. Gates resigned before the investigation could be completed, though a spokesperson for Gates told the Wall Street Journal the two events were not related.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t the only time Gates is said to have pursued a woman employee. In 2006, Gates reportedly emailed a woman at Microsoft immediately after she made a presentation to the company, asking her out to dinner. According to a person who read the email, it included the line: “If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened.”
On another occasion, Gates asked a woman he was traveling with on a Gates Foundation business trip, “I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me?” The woman told the Times that the question made her uncomfortable, and that she dodged it with a laugh.
Some current and former employees clarified in an interview with the Times that Gates didn’t intentionally commit any kind of quid pro quo when he made these alleged advances, and that he seemed to believe they had the ability to turn him down freely. Whether or not an employee can feel truly free to reject her boss’s advances—particularly if her boss is one of the world’s richest men—is not something the Times interrogates.
The above events all occurred during the Gates’s marriage, which Gates would reportedly complain about to Epstein during gatherings at the convicted sex offender’s Manhattan home. According to the Daily Beast, Epstein gave Gates advice on how to end it. (A spokesperson for Gates told the Beast that “any claim that Gates spoke of his marriage or Melinda in a disparaging manner is false.”)
All of this looks exceedingly bad for Gates, and it seems it may only get worse as his divorce moves forward. If only it were possible to not (allegedly) hit on women in your workplace and associate with accused sex traffickers...it might’ve saved him some trouble!