We don’t want to pile it on, but Satya Nadella probably wishes he could have a few of his words back.
On Thursday – in front of a group of women in the tech industry – the Microsoft CEO was asked how women should go about getting a raise. His answer:
“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,” Nadella said,ReadWrite reported. “That’s good karma. It will come back. That’s the kind of person that I want to trust, that I want to give more responsibility to.”
Errr, okay. That’s really bad advice. And not just for women – it is bad advice for everyone (although the numbers show it is particularly bad advice for women).
However, there is a lesson to be learned, because frankly, far too many companies have adopted Nadella’s line of thinking without actually adopting the strategy he’s outlining. Instead, if companies can get out in front of it and actually come through on the promise Nadella is making, there is a huge competitive advantage to be had.
The Falsity of the Comment
The fundamental problem with Nadella’s comment is there is a mountain of evidence that show it isn’t true. He is preaching for people – in particular, women – to keep their heads down, plug away and big salaries will just magically come to them.
While that strategy might have worked when Dwight Eisenhower was president, the numbers reveal that just isn’t the case anymore, particularly in the past five years. Since 2009, corporate profits in the US have increased by 84 percent, one of the largest five-year increases ever.
In that same time, wages for American workers have increased by a mere 7.86 percent, despite record productivity. Never before in American history has there been such a gap between the percentage profits have increased in respect to the percentage wages have increased.
And women have always felt it more than anyone. Despite plenty of efforts, the gender gap persists, even at the highest levels: the Wall Street Journal reports that female CEOs make 80 percent of what male CEOs make.
So the problem with Nadella’s comment is that it isn’t untrue, particularly for women. Chances are, if you don’t advocate for yourself, you’re not going to get an increase.