Microsoft: Shut up, ladies, and well give you a raise when we feel like it.™
  • 360b / Shutterstock
  • Microsoft: Shut up, ladies, and we'll give you a raise when we feel like it.™
I had such high hopes for new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. He seemed like a gust of cool air after so many wearying years of Steve Ballmer's humid wheezing. But as the Verge reports, Nadella gave some truly terrible advice to women when it comes to bridging the gender pay gap:

Addressing a group of mostly women at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, Nadella told the crowd, "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."

"That's good karma. It will come back," Nadella said. "That's the kind of person that I want to trust, that I want to give more responsibility to."

This is a baffling statement. Women are still paid much less than men. (And Microsoft is especially bad when it comes to matters of gender: they recently announced that their workforce is 71 percent men.) How will telling women to stop asking for raises allow them to climb the ladder to pay equity? Isn't part of the problem that women aren't encouraged to advocate for themselves in the workplace? Isn't having the most powerful man in the company suggest that women shut up and trust the company to pay them correctly kind of, I don't know, the wrong message to send, especially at a conference celebrating women in computing? Nadella (or Nadella's PR firm) must have realized how terrible the above quote sounded, because he tried to fix things on Twitter:

Which, you know, bullshit. This bears no relation to what Nadella said. I'm surprised he didn't try to claim that his mouth was hacked during the speech.

Nadella's statement is worrying on plenty of different levels. When the CEO of a major employer in the Seattle region tells employees and prospective employees to trust the system to pay them, that's an anti-worker statement. It suggests that Nadella (and by extension Microsoft) rewards employees who shut up and do their job, who don't complain about pay or work conditions. Nadella's comments illustrate exactly why workers need unions to advocate for them.