Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took a step back and apologized for the controversial comment he made about women early Thursday.
“I answered that question completely wrong,” Nadella wrote in a letter posted on Microsoft’s News Center. “Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap.”
Nadella added, “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”
On Thursday, Nadella spoke at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. When asked for advice for women who are uncomfortable asking for a raise, Nadella said, “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise…It’s good karma. It will come back.”
His comment wasn’t well-received by the audience that was predominantly female, and was immediately criticised online for its sexist implications, especially because of the large gender pay disparity in Silicon Valley.
Here’s the full letter below:
All — Today I was interviewed on stage by Maria Klawe at the Grace Hopper Conference — I encourage you to watch the video. It was great to spend time with so many women passionate about technology. I was honored to be a part of it and I left the conference energized and inspired.
Toward the end of the interview, Maria asked me what advice I would offer women who are not comfortable asking for pay raises. I answered that question completely wrong. 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.
I said I was looking forward to the Grace Hopper Conference to learn, and I certainly learned a valuable lesson. I look forward to speaking with you at our monthly Q&A next week and am happy to answer any question you have.
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