Longtime Microsoft employee Natalie Ayres left her job as Director of Small & Medium Business & Partners, UK, at Microsoft in 2007. However, it seems there may be more to her departure than a desire for change or a better opportunity. According to anonymous sources that spoke to the London Telegraph, Ayres was apparently unfairly passed over for a big promotion and left the company as a result. Not only that, but she was given a seven-figure 'compromise agreement' upon her departure.
According to the Telegraph's sources, Ayres was widely tipped as a prime candidate to replace Alistair Baker as managing director of Microsoft UK when the position became available mid-2006. However, the job was given to someone from Microsoft South Africa before Ayres had even finished the interview process. Ayres then left the company in 2007. The Telegraph's sources say that, while her departure was hailed as a 'personal decision' by newly-appointed manager Gordon Frazer, other employees were angered by the way she was apparently treated. They said that while Microsoft does offer equal opportunity for women, this fades the higher you rise through the ranks.
"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," a source is quoted as saying.
Both Microsoft and Ayres declined to comment on the Telegraph's story. It follows close on the heels of another Telegraph article regarding Microsoft UK. The newspaper earlier this month reported on the 'repeated sexual harassment by married senior managers towards their female colleagues,' the details of which were revealed thanks to a lawsuit filed by a former female employee.