It had been a while (5 minutes) since the Twitterverse had conducted a cyber fauxtest, so Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella provided more than enough fodder when he ineptly tried to tell women that they should not ask for a raise, but instead trust in karma:
“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” said Nadella to Maria Klawe, who is president of Harvey Mudd College and also a member of Microsoft’s board, in an onstage interview.
“That might be one of the initial ‘super powers,’ that quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have,” he added. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”
If you squint one eye, you can kind of see what he was trying to suggest, but even with that benefit of the doubt, he still needs to rethink his stance on women’s pay. Waiting around for karma to exact revenge, because a coworker got a bigger raise, is not a strategy you’d hear a CEO telling a male employee.
What Nadella did do right was to apologize quickly:
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 #GHC14
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) October 9, 2014
And then in a statement he said:
Toward the end of the interview, Maria asked me what advice I would offer women who are not comfortable asking for pay raises. I answered that question completely wrong. Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. 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.
Personally, I think that should be the end of it. CEOs–heck every human being in the world–make mistakes now and then. Unless you’ve been on stage, under bright lights, facing thousands of attendees, and been placed on the spot to answer a tough question, it’s best not to judge.
Nadella said he wanted to attend the conference so he could learn. Well, he was an active participant in a big lesson. The key now is to see if he has learned his lesson. If the end result is a CEO that is more attuned to the issue of equality, then this was a net gain for everyone. If this “gaff” was reflective of an underlying attitude towards women, then, well, I suspect Microsoft will have a new CEO in the next year or so.
Karma will take care of that. 😉