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Wednesday, 21 September 2011 09:18

Microsoft pays woman exec a million dollars

Written by Nick Farell


British woman settles sexual discrimination case
A British woman has been given more than a million dollars by Microsoft to quietly “go away” after she failed to get an important senior management role. Natalie Ayres worked at the computer software company for 15 years and was the general manager of its “Small-Medium Enterprises and Partners Group."

She was widely tipped to warm Alistair Baker's seat as managing director of Microsoft UK when the position became vacant in 2006. Instead Vole gave the role to Gordon Frazer, a general manager at Microsoft South Africa, allegedly before Ayres had even completed the interview process. She left this year under a “compromise agreement," which sources at the company said ran into seven figures.

Local Voles are furious. They feel she has been poorly treated by Microsoft, which seemed to be doing its best to stop women rising to the top. One, interviewed by the Daily Telegraph, said that Microsoft's management was a boys' club and the only way for a woman to progress beyond a certain point is to become a “male in female clothing."

Microsoft is apparently very good in its treatment of women further down the pecking order. However, the senior level within the company is where the enlightened behaviour stops. Nevertheless, there does appear to be some problems with this approach. Microsoft appears to be creating senior managers who behave like cave men. Already, a UK court has heard of repeated sexual harassment by married senior managers towards their female colleagues. There is a £10?million High Court battle between the company and one of its former employees. Apparently, Emma Cloney, Microsoft’s “global alliance” manager, was forced to seek “protection” and flee a debauched staff party after two of her senior, married colleagues made unwanted sexual advances.

Nick Farell

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