Microsoft ‘paid hush money’ to female exec

A high-flying British Microsoft executive has reportedly been given more than £1 million as hush money, after she complained that she was passed over for promotion because of sexism.

According to a Daily Telegraph source, Natalie Ayres was passed over for the job of UK managing director five years ago. This was despite having clocked up 15 years with the company, latterly as director of the company’s small & medium business and partners division.

Instead, the company gave the job to Gordon Frazier, a general manager at Microsoft South Africa, says the paper – before Ayres had even completed the interview process.

When Ayres left the company at the end of 2006, she’s said to have been given the massive payoff. Frazier said he respected her ‘personal decision to move on’.

The accusation follows a court case from former board member Simon Negus that Microsoft’s UK offices were a hotbed of alcohol and sex. Negus was sacked over allegations that he’d kissed one colleague and asked another to flutter her eyelashes. He’s now suing, claiming harassment, loss of earnings and wrongful dismissal.

“Diversity and inclusion are not just words on paper for us; they are core values and business imperatives,” says CEO Steve Ballmer in the company’s diversity mission statement.

“We promote diversity at every level within our organization and strive for inclusiveness in everything we do.”