Microsoft’s Satya Nadella Backtracks Over Women Salary Gaffe

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Open mouth, insert foot. Microsoft boss Nadella says sorry for saying women don’t need to ask for a pay raise

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has landed himself in hot water for saying that women don’t need to ask for a raise and should just trust the system to pay them well.

His comments prompted uproar on social media, and Microsoft quickly rushed out a response in which Nadella admitted he had been “completely wrong.”

Good Karma?

Nadella was interviewed on Thursday at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. The three-day conference in Phoenix, Arizona was intended to celebrate women in computing.

Nadella’s gaffe came when he was asked to give his advice to women who were uncomfortable requesting a raise.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft at Build 2011“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,” Nadella reportedly said.

“Because that’s good karma,” Nadella continued. “It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust.”

Nadella was immediately challenged over his comments by Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and a member of Microsoft’s board. She said his stance on the issue “one of the very few things that I disagree with you on.” She suggested women carry out their own research regarding salary information, and first practice asking with people they trust.

The two later hugged on stage and both were warmly applauded, but Nadella’s comments triggered an immediate hostile reaction on Twitter and other social media.

To be fair, both Nadella and Microsoft reacted quickly and Nadella admitted he had answered the question complete wrong, in an email to Microsoft staff.

“Toward the end of the interview, Maria asked me what advice I would offer women who are not comfortable asking for pay raises,” wrote Nadella. “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.”

Glass Ceiling

“I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work,” Nadella added. “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.”

Microsoft’s own staff figures reveal that only 29 percent of Redmond’s employees are women. In the technical and engineering roles, women only make up 17 percent of staff.

Last year, Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, said that more women are needed in the technology industry. “It all begins with education and convincing girls that this is a viable career,” she said.

Last October, research from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium revealed that there was a severe shortage of women in the Information Security industry. It found that women account for just 11 percent of total InfoSec workforce, despite double-digit annual growth of the number of staff in this field.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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