SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Microsoft paid "more than one million" to silence a woman executive who was overlooked for heading up the UK arm of the company.
According to the Telegraph, Natalie Ayres, a married mother, missed out on the job in the summer of 2006 despite being thought the likely candidate for the role.
The job was instead given to Gordon Frazer, a general manager at Microsoft South Africa, allegedly before Ayres had even finished the interview process.
Microsoft employees thought that she had been treated unfairly and raised questions about a "glass ceiling" for women rising through the company's ranks.
Ayres, who had worked at Microsoft for 15 years, left at the end of the year with a 'compromise agreement' that ran into seven figures, Microsoft sources told Daily Telegraph.
"It's a boys' club," said one. "The only way to progress beyond a certain point is to become a male in female clothing."
"They do not follow procedure enough and if your face doesn't fit, you suffer," he explained.
This is not the first time that Microsoft has fallen into disrepute. At the start of this month it became clear Microsoft has a rather wild UK office, by all accounts, as it emerged that the company's staff were grossly misbehaving at booze fuelled parties.
That case centres around Simon Negus, who was dismissed by the firm last year after he was accused of kissing a colleague.
Papers filed in court suggest that a Microsoft sales conference was full of drunken people, high on vodka and Jagermeister and indulging in "outrageous misbehaviour". In one instance a man was so drunk that he followed a female manager into a toilet and another was "so p***** he could not remember a thing", the newspaper added. µ