The employee in the middle of the issue is Natalie Ayres who has been working for Microsoft for the past 15 years. She was touted to become the new general manager of its "Small-Medium Enterprises and Partners Group". She was widely expected to succeed Alistair Baker as the managing director of Microsoft UK.
The Telegraph reported the news where Ayres was overlooked for the position after the role became vacant in 2006. Ayres is a married mother. The role finally went to the general manager at Microsoft South Africa, Gordon Frazer even before Ayres had completed her interview process.
It was also reported that Ayres left with a "compromise agreement" at the end of the year with sources claiming that the figure she received ran into 7 digits. Certain colleagues and other staff felt she was treated unfairly in the whole episode.
The paper quoted staff as saying, "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. Although women compete on an equal basis further down the organization, they hit a glass ceiling at around level 65 or above."
Ayres and Microsoft refused to comment on the case.