Satya Nadella says good karma (authorised by men) will help women reach the top...
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has angered women everywhere overnight by claiming that they shouldn’t ask for a pay rise and should ‘have faith in the [male-dominated] system’ to help them reach the top. And, oh, he said it all at an event promoting gender equality in the tech industry.
Claiming that it isn’t ‘good karma’ for women to ask for a raise, Satya was being interviewed on stage at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing by Maria Klawe, a Microsoft director and president of Harvey Mudd College.
Asked to give advice to women who feel uncomfortable about asking for a pay rise, Satya suggested that karma would reward women who didn’t speak up to ask for more money from their employers.
‘It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along,’ he said. ‘And that, I think, might be one of the additional superpowers that, quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have. Because that’s good karma. It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust. That’s the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to. And in the long-term efficiency, things catch up.’
His interviewer Maria then told him that, quite simply, he was wrong, drawing cheers from the baffled audience.
The conference held in Pheonix had aimed to address issues that women working in huge, male-dominated technology firms face. Only 29 percent of Microsoft’s employees are women (a figure that is similar in comparable firms) and the industry as a whole is regularly criticised for its lack of diversity.
After weathering a major backlash on Twitter, Satya issued a formal apology.
‘Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise. Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias,’ he said.
‘I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it’s deserved, Maria’s advice was the right advice. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.’