Microsoft's UK division has allegedly paid a former female executive over £1 million as part of a deal to compensate her for not being named as the managing director of the division. The Telegraph reports that Natalie Ayres, who worked at Microsoft UK for 15 years, had risen up the ranks to become the general manager of Microsoft's Small-Medium Enterprises and Partners Group. However, when the job position of Microsoft UK general manager became available in 2006, Ayres was reportedly passed over in favor of Gordon Frazer, who was a general manager of Microsoft South Africa.
The move made other employees at Microsoft UK angry, allegedly because they felt Ayres had fallen victim to a "glass ceiling" at the division. This issue has supposedly kept female team members from moving higher in the executive ranks. One unnamed person was quoted as saying, "They [management] do not follow procedure enough and if your face doesn’t fit, you suffer. It’s a boys’ club. The only way to progress beyond a certain point is to become a male in female clothing."
The story claims that Ayres decided to depart Microsoft UK at the end of 2006 but not before receiving what was called a “compromise agreement”. This deal allowed her to receive a payout that amounted to over £1 million. The story also claims that male executives at Microsoft UK have been accused of repeatedly sexually harassing their female team members. One such incident happened during a party in Atlanta where one female employee claims she was forced to leave after receiving unwanted sexual advances from two of her male senior team members. Neither Microsoft nor Ayres have commented on these reports.