What’s the phrase… “Karma is a bitch?” Talk about poetic given Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s comments about how women should ask for a raise—said no less in front of 10,000 women at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference.
“For women who aren’t comfortable asking for a raise, what’s your advice for them?” asked Maria Klawe, a member of Microsoft’s board of directors.
“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise as you go along,” Nadella replied.
“That might be one of the additional ‘super-powers’ that, quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have,” he said. “That’s good karma. It will come back.”
He prefaced this statement by quoting a former Microsoft exec who said, “All HR systems are long-term efficient and short-term inefficient.”
Maria told him she disagreed with his answer. Her advice? Do your homework and role play with someone you trust.
Twitter exploded. Nadella posted a retraction there and then this email to employees went up on the Microsoft press page:
“I answered the 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.”
So, here’s the deal. I listened to his whole interview. He said a lot of great things about women in technology and his ideas on programs to develop them. Unfortunately, towards the end of his interview he said the wrong thing about women and raises.
How many of us have had leaders who say stupid stuff? I can think back to multiple CEOs, and even a few CHROs, who at times spoke before they thought. And it may have felt like the world momentarily stopped (depending on what was said) but what awesome opportunities for me to help problem solve and coach.
I’m guessing the women on Nadella’s leadership team (his CFO, CHRO…) promptly got in his face and got to work.
17.1% of Microsoft’s tech-related workforce is women—which is about average for all the major players in this space. It’s not great, but it’s not only an issue at Microsoft.
Look, everyone says dumb stuff at some point. I say we give him a small break as it does appear he’s trying to ensure women are successful in the tech space. Nadella commented he felt there was a real issue in development of women as well as creating a culture where women can do their best work. I’m guessing Microsoft is all over these two issues.
And at the end of the day—he is just a guy.
Kathy Rapp is the CEO of hrQ where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent for permanent or project roles across the country. Prior to joining hrQ Kathy booked more than 15 years of diverse HR leadership experience working in F500s and start-up organizations. A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent insights can be gleamed from the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen and AC/DC.