Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer seemed to invite ridicule when he told the Cebit trade fair in Germany in March 2002 that the under-fire company was developing a caring and compassionate side.
“We have to be a respectful, open and appropriate competitor,” he told a bemused audience. “We need to be a responsible leader for our industry.”
But sceptics – and there were many – may be interested to note the results of a new survey of the 100 ‘best companies to work for’. Whisper it quietly, at least when within earshot of Sun Microsystems executives, but Microsoft was ranked first among technology companies and second overall, behind the Asda supermarket chain.
The study, conducted by The Sunday Times newspaper of London, placed no fewer than 15 software and computer equipment vendors in the list. Only the financial services sector had a bigger contingent, with 20 companies listed.
Some 97% of Microsoft employees questioned said they looked forward to coming to work. And it is not difficult to see why. Bosses at the company’s UK headquarters give the rank-and-file free ice creams during the summer, outdoor heaters in winter, fresh fruit every day and Indian head massages – when headaches caused by the anti-trust saga get too much, presumably.