Satya Nadella faces flak over “inarticulate” comments on women pay

New York:  Satya Nadella, India-born CEO of Microsoft, landed in a soup for saying that women employees need not ask for pay hikes, for which he had to later apologise and admit that he was “completely wrong” with such “inarticulate” comments.

“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 had said when asked about his suggestion to those women who are not comfortable asking for a salary raise.

Nadella, who earlier this year became CEO of the world’s largest software maker with turnover of USD 87 billion, replied that not asking for a raise can in fact be “one of the additional superpowers that, quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have.

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

The comments created a furore, including on social  media platforms, and Nadella had to later tweet and issue a memo to Microsoft employees to explain his position.

“(I) was inarticulate re(garding) how women should ask for raise. Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias,” tweeted Nadella, who is otherwise not very active on this social media platform and tweets only occasionally.

Later he also tweeted a link to his email memo to staff members to explain his position.

The comments were made by Nadella during an interview to a Microsoft director Maria Klawe last night at the Grace Hopper Conference of Women in Computing.

The interviewer, also president of Harvey Mudd College, said that she disagreed with him (Nadella) on comments at the conference and her statements drew cheers from the audience.

The comments generated angry comments from various quarters including in the US and India, through blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn among others, while many went on to say that there was as such a huge lack of gender diversity at tech companies.

Acknowledging that his response to the question on hike for women employees was “completely wrong”, Nadella later said he believes men and women should get equal pay.

“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,” Nadella said in his memo.

“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,” the India-origin CEO said.

Nadella also said that he was honoured to be a part of the interview and left the conference “energised and inspired”.

In February, Nadella was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors effective immediately. Nadella previously held the position of Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.

Nadella was in India late last month.

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