Nadella Apologizes For Gender Pay Gaffe - InformationWeek

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Nadella Apologizes For Gender Pay Gaffe

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella draws quick criticism for his response to a question about pay gaps between male and female employees.

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Since making his public debut as Microsoft CEO last March, Satya Nadella has generally been praised as a thoughtful public speaker. Nadella drew criticism this week, however, when he suggested women should refrain from asking for raises and instead trust that "the system" will reward their hard work. Nadella subsequently apologized for the remarks, calling them "inarticulate" and "completely wrong."

Somewhat ironically, Nadella made the comment at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Phoenix, where he participated in a keynote Q&A with Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and a member of Microsoft's board of directors. For much of the talk, Nadella appeared to have a comfortable rapport with the audience, which heard him celebrate the rise of women CEOs in India and praise the unique perspective women bring to traditionally male fields. His remark on pay came during the talk's final 10 minutes.

"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 answered when Klawe brought up the hot-button issue of women being less likely than men to ask for raises. "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."

[Don't talk yourself out of challenges. Read 'Why Not?': Power Phrase For Women In Tech.]

"I'm not saying that's the only approach," he continued. He said that Mike Maples, the executive under whom Nadella worked when he joined Microsoft, characterized all HR departments as inefficient in the short term but efficient in the long term. This philosophy suggests people might overcome temporary dissatisfaction with pay by focusing on long-term prospects, Nadella said.

Drawing applause from the audience, Klawe responded that pay raises are one of the few issues where she and Nadella disagree. "Make sure you know what a reasonable salary is when you're offered a job. Don't be as stupid as I was," she said after stating that she'd negotiated her salary poorly in the past.

Nadella's response sparked ire on social media. Many pointed out that the "karmic" system Nadella advocated hasn't worked out in practice. According to an oft-cited study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women earn only 78% of what equally qualified men are paid. Another recent study concluded women request an average of $7,000 less than men when negotiating salaries.

"It is shameful that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella would tell women -- especially in an industry that already has a serious problem recruiting and retaining female talent -- not to ask for raises. Wage discrimination costs women and their families close to half a million dollars over their lifetime," said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of women's activist group UltraViolet, in an emailed statement.

Nadella quickly took to Twitter, where he said he'd been "inarticulate" and that the tech industry "must close the pay gap." He followed up with a letter to employees, posted to Microsoft's website, in which he said his comments were "completely wrong" and that he fully supports efforts to bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. "I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work," he wrote. "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."

Despite his gaffe, Nadella encouraged employees to watch a video of the event.

Although women continue to earn less than their male peers, evidence suggests tech companies offer more equitable salaries than companies in many other industries. The aforementioned AAUW study notes that engineering and computer science jobs were among the few with relative pay equity. But "relative" equity can still be a slippery concept. A recent study by a Harvard economist found that female computer scientists earn only 89% as much as their male counterparts. Women fared much worse in other industries with high-earning jobs, such as finance and medicine. A recent survey by the website Dice.com similarly found that tech jobs tend to offer equitable pay compared to other industries, but that men still earn on average almost 10% more than women.

Compounding the pay issue, women are still vastly outnumbered by men at most large tech companies. Nadella addressed this point during his Q&A with Klawe, stating that Microsoft has "to figure out how to get women into the organization and... into our development."

It's unknown how well Microsoft's female employees are paid relative to their male peers, or to their counterparts at other tech companies. But in terms of gender representation in the workforce, Microsoft has increased its number of female employees over the last few years and now roughly matches other large players in its industry. According to its most recent disclosure on employee diversity, 29% of Microsoft employees are female, with 17% in technical roles.

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/24/2014 | 10:40:27 AM
Re: Resign
What constitutes "enough" women in tech? There shouldn't be quotas or expectations of which group goes where. People who are good at tech should be in it regardless of race, color, gender, etc. Same thing with medicine, accounting, etc.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2014 | 11:12:34 PM
Re: Talk about mixed messages
"I think Nadella has to revise scripts before he can make a public appearance. Although he was never taken lightly by the media after he was crowned such a position in Microsoft (since he never has been popular), let's see what kind of management Windows 10 gets before Nadella swoops in to make a comment on how good/bad Windows 10 is fairing."

I personally do not like Satya Nadella because of the comments he made, it could go either way and this dual nature of his spoken lines have given me nothing instead snatched my hope about the industry standards of women. Maybe if he does good management and pushes women up the executive ladder (because let's face it, he really shouldn't have said that) I'll be ready to see Nadella's public appearances.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2014 | 11:08:06 PM
Re: the Gender pay gaffe was no gaffe; it is Nadella's upbringing in the Indian culture
"Yep. The women who earn less may help contribute to the Gender pay gap. I am reading the enlightening book "Women Don't Ask" by Prof. Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. In it, they describe he research done on how women have been culturally conditioned for many years to 'not ask' and just accept what comes their way. They put forth how women can change their mindset and ask, negotiate ( men need to shed their chauvinistic ways too ! ). "

@mpochan156: True indeed. Women do not ask, even though they are preferred more than males under a same talent redline. It's their duty to ask for a raise because if not done then women will be taken for granted, and this gender pay gap gives rise to more office politics. Women are the victim everywhere, this needs to change.
mpochan156
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mpochan156,
User Rank: Author
10/20/2014 | 9:59:13 AM
the Gender pay gaffe was no gaffe; it is Nadella's upbringing in the Indian culture
Satya Nadella's Gender pay gaffe was no gaffe; it is Nadella's upbringing in the Indian culture and then adding to it here in the U.S. Should he be embarassed by his culture ? Should he change ?  Can he change ? And what role do the women play ?

Huh ?!?!  What do you mean, Ike,  'what role do the women play ' in Gender pay differences ? 

Yep. The women who earn less may help contribute to the Gender pay gap. I am reading the enlightening book "Women Don't Ask" by Prof. Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. In it, they describe he research done on how women have been culturally conditioned for many years to 'not ask' and just accept what comes their way. They put forth how women can change their mindset and ask, negotiate ( men need to shed their chauvinistic ways too ! ). 

There is a lot more to it, but that is the essence. I suggest all HR Departments read and educate everyone on "Women Don't Ask". 

 

Ike

an Entrepreneur-In-Residence

 
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
10/19/2014 | 1:57:06 PM
Re: Resign
Not at all. Men are interested about technology and women are interested about managing a technical department, that is why you see so many female CEOs the world around. I don't think unfair work policies have got to do anything with it, however since looks go before books, females are given more priority over males in a company (while recruiting).
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
10/19/2014 | 1:55:05 PM
Re: Talk about mixed messages
I think Nadella has to revise scripts before he can make a public appearance. Although he was never taken lightly by the media after he was crowned such a position in Microsoft (since he never has been popular), let's see what kind of management Windows 10 gets before Nadella swoops in to make a comment on how good/bad Windows 10 is fairing.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
10/14/2014 | 4:22:30 PM
Re: Talk about mixed messages
I hear you Thomas. But MS isn't 100% like that. I have cousin who works there and they have taken great care of him over the years. He is former mechanic without a college degree, started at MS managing a team on their premier support help desk. He has had several promotions and survived several reorgs. He now has different mgmt position with them. I suppose it is all about the competence of your boss and your bosses boss. People like him aren't known to the Nadella/Ballmer level. I think he told me he saw Ballmer once on MS campus in Seattle when he was visiting.

But I get your point. But don't think asking for raise fixes that situation either. Whether woman or man.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
10/14/2014 | 3:27:51 PM
Re: Talk about mixed messages
>What Nadella was trying to say was that if you are good at what you do, the company will figure that and compensate you so you stay.

Even that charitable interpretation of Nadella's remarks assumes too much competence on the part of companies, which often don't know the talent they have and thus aren't likely to recognize it until the person has left for greener pastures.
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
10/14/2014 | 2:17:27 PM
Re: Resign
I don't think it's as simple as "females just aren't interested in working in technology." For one, I think are a lot of  cultural messages aimed at women that as a group they are somehow less suited for STEM pursuits than men. This is well illustrated in an xkcd cartoon: in one panel two guys are at a blackboard working on a problem, and one says to the other "You suck at math." In the second panel, a guy and a girl are working at the blackboard, and the guy says "Girls suck at math."

For another, I've heard from a variety of women who work in technology about the conditions they face because of their gender, from minor harrasment to outright hostility.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
10/13/2014 | 7:45:31 PM
Re: Resign
There just aren't enough women in tech. I don't know if this drove Nadella's comments or not, but it just doesn't seem as though females are interested in working in this space.

The numbers prove this, and I remember when I was studying IT in college the students were almost all male. I don't know how to improve this other than it has to take hold at a young age, the interest in technology. 
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