An Open Letter To Satya Nadella

Posted: October 14, 2014

Satya Nadella’s callous remarks about women and their fight against the pay gap are yet another indicator of the deeply biased culture of our work spaces. An appalled fan responds.

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, who Indians can’t help gushing over because of his Indian origin and upbringing, recently stirred up a hornet’s nest by suggesting that working women should rely on Karma when it comes to securing pay raises. These remarks came when Nadella was speaking during an on-stage discussion at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Arizona.

Asked about advice for women interested in advancing careers but uncomfortable asking for pay increases, Mr Nadella replied that they should just trust “that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along”. As if that was not enough, he went on to add that women who do not ask for better remuneration have a “superpower” in the form of “good karma that will come back”.

The moderator at this discussion, Maria Klawe, a college president and a member of Microsoft’s board of directors, pointedly disagreed with Mr Nadella, drawing thunderous applause from the audience.

Ms. Klawe advised women listening in the audience to “do your homework” to make sure their pay is on par with that of male counterparts.

Open Letter to Satya Nadella

Well, Mr Nadella,

I am an Indian, and I feel very proud when I see a compatriot doing well in their chosen field (though I do feel anguished when I see a greater percentage of my fellow countrymen doing better across our shores than they could have within the country, had they chosen to stay back).

But I couldn’t disagree more with you about what you said earlier this week. It is now a proven fact that women across the globe get paid lesser than their male counterparts for same or similar jobs. A woman earns only 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. It’s been that way since the sixties. How long do women need to wait for karma to get back to them?

Your statements would be tantamount to saying, “If you’re qualified to take on the mantle of the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world, you should sit back at home and relax. Just wait for karma and Mr. Bill Gates to find you!”

Why didn’t you do that?

I do not quite know whether I believe in God, but I do believe in Karma – being good in thought, word, and deed. But I don’t trust karma to negotiate for me. And I don’t feel ashamed in admitting that I want to be paid now for what I do, rather than waiting for karma to dish it out to me when “it should” (if I were to go by what you suggest).

You’ve lost a fan (or several)!

Your image has been severely dented by making this misguided statement. Somehow I don’t respect you as much as I did earlier. Coming from a person of your stature, it reeks of male chauvinism. Not surprisingly, there are only two women directors on your top-board consisting of 12 members.

Your backtracking from your statements and clarifications on Twitter do little to salvage the huge drubbing that your image has taken. I also read that you later sent out memos to members of your staff apologizing and saying that your reply to the question was “completely wrong”.

I see these as mere face-saving gimmicks – I got to know the person beneath the suave corporate executive when you said those words spontaneously. I know you aren’t reading this, but I’m sorry – you lost a huge fan today!

This post was first published here.

Freelance writer, eBook author and blogger.

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