Nadella apologises for remark on women’s pay

Satya Nadella, the Indian-American CEO of Silicon Valley giant Microsoft, has expressed regret in an internal memo for a remark that he made one week ago suggesting that women employees should rely on good karma rather than asking for a pay raise.

Last Thursday, Mr. Nadella, who was appointed as CEO in February, said during a television interview, “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith the system would actually give you the right raises as you go along.” He added, “And that I think that 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 will 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 I want to really give more responsibility to.”

Within hours of his remarks and following a firestorm of protest Mr. Nadella issued a message to Microsoft employees apparently aimed at damage control, when he said, “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… If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”

Yet, some media pointed out that his admitting to being “inarticulate” was “the polar opposite of apologising, as it asks that we believe he didn’t mean what he stated clearly and clearly meant.”

It may have been in this context that Mr. Nadella said in an internal memo, obtained and published by multiple U.S. media organisations, “One of the answers I gave at the conference was generic advice that was just plain wrong. I apologise.”

More generally, he added, “I do believe that at Microsoft in general good work is rewarded, and I have seen it many times here. But my advice underestimated exclusion and bias — conscious and unconscious — that can hold people back. Any advice that advocates passivity in the face of bias is wrong.”

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Printable version | May 5, 2021 7:55:32 PM |

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