Satya Nadella is not going to get away with his remark on October 9 that easily. On that day, Mircosoft’s CEO was invited to talk at a women in tech event. Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd College, a Microsoft director and the host of the event, asked him to tell his thoughts on how should women act when they are unhappy with their wages.
“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,” Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella said. He also mentioned that “good karma” will play an important role in the process.
The reply provoked a backlash coming from people who said that the tech world is predominantly male so trusting the system is not a solution, as this is how we got here in the first place.
Nadella returned on the matter during the same day, saying on Twitter that “Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise. Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias”
During a more recent interview with a USA Today journalist, Nadella underlined once again how wrong he was to say that.
Now other news comes to haunt Nadella. According to official papers, Microsoft’s CEO received more than $84 million from the company since his installment. Almost $80 million came as stock options, his basic salary is $919,000 and other $3.6 million were offered as a bonus.
If that reeks of hypocrisy, is because that’s exactly what this is. Nadella retracted his controversial answer, but we can’t stop thinking that if the CEO of one of the largest tech company said something like that publicly, what should we expect from other smaller actors?
We know far too well that there are very few women working in the industry. Diversity reports released by Twitter and others during the summer emphasized precisely this: tech companies are dominated by white men and it’s not a coincidence. Until the 1980s, an important number of computer programmers were women, as the job seemed a mere advancement from the secretary position. When the tech revolution took off and the industry seemed like it was going to produce a lot of money, men started to replace women as programmers.
Gamergate, a scandal that took off in August, is just the latest pointing just how mistreated women are in the tech world, making the irresponsible declaration delivered by Nadella even more relevant.