So Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is on the carpet this week for being so old-fashioned and out of touch the public literally could not stand it.
Someone at a conference this week asked Nadella for his thoughts on what women should do if they are not comfortable asking for a pay bump. In front a of live audience, he replied: “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.”
So, according to Nadella, women are supposed to have faith the system they work in will reward them? Is this is the same system – you know, the tech industry in Silicon Valley, home of the programmer bromance stereotype – that we’ve all acknowledged is flawed, broken and functioning imperfectly? The same system that made such a huge spectacle of releasing organizational diversity analytics company by company that clearly detail just how unfriendly it is to women and minorities? The same system that once the spectacle faded from those oh so interesting diversity numbers trotted out a few piecemeal, stop gappish – at best – solutions to say sorry, we’ll do better?
That’s not very proactive advice, Mr. Nadella. At first I thought I’d stumbled onto one of those old school film clippings they play when they’re trying to convince some 50s housewife she’s not seeing lights flashing on the stove. Only she is, and her husband is actually trying to drive her crazy.
Then, as if to cement just how antiquated and plain old horrible his response was, Nadella’s retraction was so about face it seemed almost like an admission of guilt. As if he’d just realized in that moment he’d been walking around his whole life thinking something wrong. Or had it pointed out to him so vociferously he knew his only recourse was to issue a full blown mea culpa.
Ladies, I can guarantee Nadella has some excellent nuggets of professional wisdom to offer. I bet the Grace Hopper Conference in Phoenix, Arizona conference where he was speaking was spilling over with insights that will help you elevate your personal or professional brand.
But waiting for someone to acknowledge your worth at predetermined intervals and be generous enough to pay you what the system thinks you deserve? No, ladies. That’s not something you should consider doing for even one little moment.
Dismal pay and gender gap stats in the tech industry be damned, time is the one commodity none of us have to squander, so waiting for anything isn’t really advisable. Not for discussions around diversity or inclusion or talent management to improve, nor to decide whether one of the most powerful leaders in the tech industry has a responsibility to espouse and practice fair and equal pay practices in a global marketplace.
Waiting for acknowledgement, opportunity or money are lessons women and minorities learn early and if they’re blessed, they learn those things well.
This piece also appeared in Diversity Executive magazine online.