Microsoft Corp’s chief executive officer Satya Nadella on Thursday suggested that women in technology should not ask for raises, but have faith in the “system,” bringing a torrent of criticism and causing the executive to backtrack after the statement.
Nadella, who began her role in February, was asked how women should get ahead in the technology world at a three-day conference in Phoenix, Arizona, intended to celebrate women in computing.
“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 said, according to a recording on the Web site of the event, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.
“That’s good karma,” Nadella continued. “It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust.”
Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and a member of Microsoft Corp’s board, immediately challenged Nadella, saying his viewpoint was “one of the very few things that I disagree with you on,” eliciting a few cheers from the audience.
The two went on to hug on stage, and the audience warmly applauded, but Twitter rounded on Nadella and his comments became fodder for jokes.
“I’ll wait for Karma to lower my #xboxlive price too,” tweeted Chuck Granade.
Nadella later tried to patch up the damage.
“Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise,” he tweeted several hours after his remarks.
“Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias,” he added.
Nadella also admitted his error in a memo to Microsoft employees which was posted on the company’s Web site.
“I answered that question completely wrong,” said the memo. “I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. 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.”
Only 29 percent of Microsoft’s more than 100,000 employees are female, according to data recently released by the company.
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