Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has begun to backpedal so furiously on comments he made at the Grace Hopper Conference that he could produce his own form of green energy. The controversy was caused when he claimed women should not ask for raises, but instead trust karma to give them what they deserve.
It was a very unfortunate choice of words, given the pay gap in the US that has women routinely making 75% or less than male counterparts for the exact same positions. But it went a step further in being condescending.
The gaffe came towards the end of an interview with Maria Klawe, when Nadella was asked what advice he would have for women who find themselves nervous when asking for a raise. Which seems like a fair enough question…many men and women have this anxiety, and are unsure of how to approach a superior in their company in the right way.
Nadella said, “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise. That might be one of the initial ‘super powers,’ that quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have. It’s good karma. It will come back.”
Got that, ladies! Trust in the system. The one that already has to making an average of 25% less than your coworkers because they were born with a penis. Sound advice, coming from the CEO of yet another corporation that takes part in that pay gap in the first place.
Klawe immediately disagreed with him, giving a much more thoughtful answer about doing your research and making sure to push for the salary that is owed to you. She also told a story about finding out she was warning $50,000 less per year as a woman in the industry at a former company.
All of this looks bad, but it looks even worst thanks to that fact news that Facebook, Pinterest and Box are starting a mentoring program for women in tech. Hopefully, they do a better job than Microsoft would.
In the meantime, Nadella has apologized, saying he was “not articulate”. Some people have been on the defensive with the mansplaining, trying to claim what he meant to say, or giving the rather feeble excuse about it being an ESL issue. But when it comes down to it, he articulated himself just fine. He just had bad advice.