back to article Microsoft 'paid over £1m to silence UK exec over sexism'

Microsoft has been accused of paying a senior executive over a million pounds in a settlement to silence claims that she was passed over for promotion to the head of Redmond’s UK operations. An anonymous source told The Daily Telegraph that Natalie Ayres had been passed over for the top job in 2006, despite her 15 years with …


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  1. Ralthor

    drunken behavior and licentious conduct.

    Where do I apply?

  2. Robert Grant

    Marissa Meyer?

    Have you ever read anything she's written? My goodness it's like legally blonde!

    Or am I judging? Point me at something good she's written and I'll retract that.

  3. ratfox Silver badge

    Level 65??

    They have 65 and more levels of hierarchy at Microsoft? PLEASE tell me this is a joke!

    1. nyelvmark

      Level 65

      I think she's thinking of World or Warcraft - not too different, I'd imagine, from internal politics at Redmond (or anywhere else, for that matter).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The number of grades in Microsoft are huge. Go to any microsoftie staff forum and you see things like

      "he went from a 32 to a 40 in 2 years, there is something very fishy going on"

  4. elderlybloke

    Equality and all that

    What about not so tall short and stumpy) people like me?

    I bet we are disadvantaged as well.

    Who do I complain to?

    1. LaeMing Silver badge

      Steve Balmer?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yay for equality!

    Lets hand out positions based on gender, skin colour and sexual orientation; not actual skill and suitability for the job.

    Got to love how logic and PC go hand in hand.

    1. Paratrooping Parrot

      Have you actually read the article?

      The anonymous source is saying that Gordon Frazier was given the job even before they completed the interview process. They should interview everyone first, then decide on the merits. If they did not hire her after the interview process had finished, then it would have been a different matter, probably.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Welcome to the world of HR departments!

        Where you can no longer just hire someone for a job, the position has to be advertised and candidates interviewed.

        What this frequently means is that when you know exactly who you want to hire, you still have to go through the charade of advertising and interviewing people, even though it's a pointless waste of time for all involved!

        1. Red Bren

          You can no longer just hire someone for a job

          Exactly. You have to hire the best person for the job, rather than your mate from the golf club or local rolled-up trouser leg lodge.

          If your preferred candidate is that good, why would they need you to fiddle the recruitment process for them?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More analysis

    How many people lower down in the organisation are non-white compared to those at the top ?

  7. Mark 65 Silver badge

    "According to Microsoft’s own figures, 24 per cent of the company’s workforce is made up of women, and around 40 per cent of “executive positions” are held by staff who are women and/or members of minorities. That said, just 11 per cent of the senior executives profiled on Microsoft’s website are women, and two of the company's nine board members are women."

    2 from 9 at board level is what, 22%? That seems remarkably compatible with 24% of the workforce being women.Unless all senior execs are profiled on the website then the 11% figure needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am wrong, of course

    But in my experience a IT company with more than 40% women are doomed.

    Women are good at a lot of things, even absolutely superb. But they have a tendency of being happy and content, never too keen on changing anything or inventing anything new.

    Women unite and start your own companies, show me I am wrong.

    There was this professor or something who had this idea that men in higher positions tend to employ women to defend themselves against other men producing a sort of an wall around them to protect them and that bye studying the company from this perspective you could find the weak bosses in the organisation.

    Interesting questions, but I cannot find any logic in why a company with 30% women and 70% men

    suddenly become better if it was the opposite way.

    Fifty fifty as a democratic goal, to any cost, well, just shoot me.

    What about average weight, blue eyes versus brown eyes, left handed versus right handed, religion.

    Shoot me again.

    1. Martin

      Whereas men....

      ...just make stupid generalizations.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I really hope you're a troll, if you're not I pity you.

      You remind me of the UNIX boss at my old company who wouldn't even interview women because "Women can't do UNIX."

    3. Mike Smith

      "Shoot me again."

      Pleasure. Over to this wall, please.


  9. Steven Roper

    I think

    one of the reasons a male-dominated board of directors might not want women in positions of power is precisely because so many women, like this one, will play the gender-discrimination card the moment they don't get their way. Was she passed over because she was female or because the new male incumbent had more experience, or was it because the board knew she would claim discrimination if she was passed over? What else would she claim discrimination about once she was promoted?

    As long as women use political correctness to rise through the ranks, they'll always face that wall of opposition. I look at it from the perspective of, if a woman is willing to play the gender card to gain promotion, will she use the the same trick (or claims of sexual harassment or whatever) to get her own way once she is on the board? I wouldn't want to take a chance promoting anyone with that mentality, woman or man.

    1. Nuke

      Not Just "Experience"

      @ Stephen Roper I am with you, but you wrote :-

      "Was she passed over because she was female or because the new male incumbent had more experience .. ?"

      This woman is also talking about "experience" but promotion should not just be about experience. Competence is more important.

      You can spend 15 years (or more) f#@=ing things up. I know people who have. Or 15 years just being mediocre.

      Generally, bosses pay too much attention to "experience" and not enough to intelligence. They tend to want "experienced" but dull people. They hate people who are brighter than themselves.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    meh - discrimination by any other name

    So far, so what? "Microsoft discriminates against various employees for reasons unrelated to their job experience or qualifications" - seriously, where's the story? It's rife throughout the company - HR are borderline incompetent at all levels, and middle management cronyism is beyond ridiculous. If you are liked by/ "liked" by the right manager, and his/ her star is on the rise, you're onto a good thing. Hitch yourself to the wrong cart, and when they go, you go too. And for everyone else, there's an unremitting tide of BS about why you personally can't be promoted, get a payrise or a fresh challenge - really, they would love to, but they just haven't been given the authority to do it THIS year, but keep trying, and maybe next year.

    It's kinda reminiscent of Stalin's Russia in some ways, with the party members being promoted and purged, and the proles trudging on, day by day, for the promise of jam tomorrow.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oooh somebodys bitter

      Didn't get the promotion you thought you had a 'right' to? Length of service should not be a criteria when looking at suitability for a position. Maybe those who got the job were just better suited to it or worked harder to get it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC 0448

      Utter crap: MS is consistently voted one of the best companies in the world in which to be employed as a minority. I have many friends who work at MS (UK, Reading) and the all say that it's the best place they've worked in terms of Women and Minorities being treated the same as the White Anglo Saxon Protestant Males.

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        best companies to work for... more crap

        I've worked in two companies that used to go in for this self serving "best companies to work for" crap.... until the proles copped on and started telling it like it was, at which point management announce that time and effort allocated to "best companies to work for" was better used elsewhere.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: meh - discrimination by any other name #

    Same where I work too. if you're in with the in-crowd and liked by the 'right' people you'll have no problems going upwards. if you're not, you'll find yourself applying for internally advertised jobs that are filled before they're even advertised.

  12. TheOtherJola

    Syntax error


    "Although women compete on an equal basis further down the organization, they hit a glass ceiling at around "level 65 or above," the source added.


    What did the source add? The whole thing, or just the "level 65 or above" thing? Or did she say all of it apart from the level 65 or above thing, and there's a stray quotation mark?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The only way to progress beyond a certain point is to become a male in female clothing,"

    Does this mean that males and females are different, and work in different ways? If that's the case then maybe her style of working wasn't suitable for the job?

    Equality has always bugged me, in that not everyone *is* equal. Some people are better at things than others. Generally men and women work and think in different ways, not better or worse than each other, just different. Which may, or may not, be suitable for a specific job.

    For some reason stories like this always make me think of a character from Terry Pratchett's Discworld, a vampire who is constantly suing his employers for unsafe working practices... in a tanning salon, garlic packaging plant, pencil factory, holy water bottling factory... etc

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "...Equality has always bugged me, in that not everyone *is* equal. Some people are better at things than others. Generally men and women work and think in different ways, not better or worse than each other, just different. Which may, or may not, be suitable for a specific job..."

      Not everyone is equal in terms of ability, but the whole men and women thinking differently thing has been shown several times to be rubbish.

    2. nyelvmark

      "The only way to progress beyond a certain point is to become a male in female clothing,"

      >> Does this mean that males and females are different, and work in different ways?

      Well, that's one way of reading it. Another is that all the most senior executives at Microsoft are cross-dressers.

  14. Armando 123

    drunken behavior and licentious conduct

    Sounds like the government agency I once worked for.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The _only_ way?

    > The only way to progress beyond a certain point is to become a male in female clothing

    Their management is comprised entirely of transvestites, eh?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Statistics, standard deviations and sexism.

    There's bugger-all point in looking at the distribution at one end of the achievment scale without looking at the other end. When you do you find that men don't just over-achieve, they under-achieve too. They get more first-class degrees; they get more third-class degrees. They get more company directorships; they get more years in prison.

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