Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks to students during the Microsoft Talent India conference in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Maya Rhodan
October 10, 2014

Microsoft’s CEO quickly backpedaled Thursday night after arguing at an event that women shouldn’t ask for raises, saying in an email to employees that he answered the question “completely wrong.”

Satya Nadella, who took over as Microsoft’s boss in February, said during a question-and-answer session during a conference on women in technology that for women, “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.” The CEO argued such a practice was “good karma,” adding “it’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust.”

The reaction to Nadella’s comments was swift and angry, with many commenters saying his answer was tone-deaf in an era when many firms are grappling with ways to elevate women’s role in the technology world. After issuing a short tweet backtracking from his statement a few hours after the event, Nadella sent this email to Microsoft staff:

“Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. 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.”

 

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