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Microsoft CEO abandons magic, apologises for saying women shouldn’t ask for pay rises

Fri 10 Oct 2014

Microsoft’s chief executive officer Satya Nadella has backtracked on his controversial advice that women should not ask for pay rises but rather rely on ‘karma’ to get ahead in their careers. In a public memo, Nadella, appointed CEO of the Redmond giant in February of this year, apologised to Microsoft employees about his response to a question at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference yesterday.

Asked for advice by computer scientist and Harvey Mudd College president Maria Klawe regarding the plight of women who are timid about asking for a salary increase, Mudd, currently on a salary package worth $18mn, 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.”

The silence was deafening, at least at first. And so…

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. 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.

I said I was looking forward to the Grace Hopper Conference to learn, and I certainly learned a valuable lesson. 

Some of the responses to Nadella’s echoing of this retraction on Twitter are predictably tart:

so you’re just saying “trust the system that created the structural inequity” in a slightly different way?
Mark McBride

worse, i think he implied to literally trust magic
Juanted House

how about take gender out of the equation PERIOD! people should be judged on work only! Doing it any other way is sexist
Derek

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Microsoft news Satya Nadella
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