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Here’s what Satya Nadella actually said about women and raises

Satya Nadella gave a rambling, nonsensical reply to a question about women asking for pay rises. Here's exactly what he said

A lot has been written about what Satya Nadella said when questioned about how women should ask for a raise. Oddly all the news reports take his comments completely out of context and cherry-pick certain things he said. Here’s exactly what Nadella said, word for word.

Nadella was speaking to Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) in Arizona. Towards the end of the conversation he was asked a question about pay rises. Click here to watch the whole conversation for yourself, the section below starts at 1:35:02.

Maria Klawe: For women who aren’t comfortable with asking for a raise, who aren’t the younger you, let’s say, what’s your advice for them?

Satya Nadella: You know, the thing that perhaps most influenced me in terms of how you look at the journey or a career – there was this guy whose name was Mike Naples he was the president of Microsoft when I joined and he had this saying where he would say: ‘look, all HR systems are long term efficient, short term inefficient’, and I thought that phrase just captured it.

Which is it’s not really about asking for the raise its knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along. And that, I think might be one of the additional superpowers that quite frankly women who don’t ask for a raise have because that’s good karma, it’ll come back. Because somebody is gonna know that’s the kind of person that I wanna trust, that’s the kind of person that I wanna really give more responsibility to.

And in the long term efficiency things catch up. And I wonder, and I’m not saying that that’s the only approach, I wonder whether taking the long term helps solve for what might be perceived as this uncomfortable thing of ‘hey am I getting paid right, am I getting rewarded right’, because reality is your best work is not followed with your best reward. Your best work then has impact, people recognise it and then you get the rewards and so you have to somehow think that through I think.

Maria Klawe said that this point was “one of very few things I disagree with you on”, going on to explain how she had “always been uncomfortable in asking for things for myself” and that she had been underpaid and failed to get raises as a result.

You might say that Satya Nadella is a terrible public speaker. You might also say that he completely failed to answer the question. Either way, his answer was inadequate. After his comments Nadella took to Twitter to give a more articulate response:

In an email to all Microsoft employees Nadella expanded on this further:

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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