back to article Damage control (noun): When Microsoft's CEO kickstarts diversity plan after women pay gaffe

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who earlier this month made astonishingly sexist comments to a room full of women, has decided it's about time to make his workforce more diverse. The Microsoft boss said in a leaked memo to employees that the software giant would begin a series of initiatives including making sure that employees …

  1. Eddy Ito

    Oh yeah

    A "leaked" memo. That's PR management code for "try to make it subtle, eh boys. Oh and you too grrrll."

  2. Da Weezil

    The unpopular viewpoint...

    I view this with the same suspicion I see "all female candidate list" political fudges, quite popular with some UK politicians.

    The best person for a post is the one most skilled and experienced for the task surely? Gender shouldn't enter into it. This PC garbage really does society a disservice where it excludes the best/brightest in pursuit of some misguided diversity goal. To get the best you have to be the best, Gender doesn't enter into it. Ive worked for some female managers who were fantastic, very skilled and knowledgeable, they got where they are by being damn good, and that is the only thing that should count.

    I'm sure it wont be a popular view... cue the downvotes... At least I'm not hiding behind A/C

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The unpopular viewpoint...

      In theory, you are right, if we were living in a meritocracy. We are not - especially the UK. The glass ceiling really exists, it is out there and it is very thick. In fact there are several of those in place.

      For example, in the UK you get two glass ceilings:

      1. The "gender" ceiling

      2. The "which school did you go to" ceiling

      There is no way to break through them either purely on merit. You can only go around them (for example via a stint abroad or working for a foreign company) or follow in the wake of a spouse which has the social background necessary to "permeate" the barriers.

      So while the diversity programs may seem unfair, they are a the "lesser of the evils" and should stay in place as long as they are needed, because they are a "randomization" factor which gives people who are disadvantaged on 1 and 2 a chance to try to succeed. It actually makes sense, provided that you can fire them for underperformance if they don't.

      This is the part which most diversity programs mess up very badly. Diversity at present is more commonly associated with "do not fire that guy/girl, that will look bad on our stats" instead of "hire this one and give him a chance, we can always fire or demote him if he ends up biting more than he chew".

      1. Charles Manning

        Most ceilings in Western societies are self-imposed.

        Dear AC, you seem to have hit the "I'll blame my lack of progress and gumption on toffs" ceiling.

        We all have some obstacles. Some of us just give up at the first chance we get, then blame everyone else. "The little man just can't get ahead", blaah, blaah, blaah.

    2. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: The unpopular viewpoint...

      >some misguided diversity goal

      The diversity goal is very guided. In a complex layered economy it is difficult to send the men off to war to die for some bankers bonus if the economy then immediately grinds to a halt. Part of gender equity and diversity is about ensuring that your value as a cog in the machine is not greater than your value as a member of the knights temporary for the new world order. Diversity encompasses population control - working women tend to have less children - and wage suppression. Diversity is also a mechanism for neutering whole societies and cultures by attacking the male role and the institution of the family thereby creating dependencies on the state.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Uh ... Noun-verb pair ...

    ... Shirley.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    From my post in the original article

    Just another douche

    What a dick... Stupid dick in fact. It's ok to think things, but to say them out loud to the wrong audience just proves said douche bag doesn't deserve the new found riches he has. Might as well hire Homer Simpson to run MS!

    Now he's a dick with no balls. Just waffles!

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: From my post in the original article

      I'm pretty well known for being critical of Microsoft around these parts. Especially Microsoft's management. But I honestly do not think Nadella is a bad guy. Having met him, he seemed to be pretty good people, with a genuine passion for technology...if possessing the typical lack of social skills that is common amongst engineers.

      I am on record as saying that Microsoft as a company is out of chances and that they should not be given the benefit of the doubt any longer. That said, I do honestly believe that Nadella made an honest mistake, that he doesn't view women as "inferior", and that he simply expressed himself poorly.

      It may be the unpopular view - and frankly, what else is new around here? - but in this instance, I cannot leap to the conclusion that Nadella = bad person.

      1. Mark 85

        Re: From my post in the original article

        Good points, especially the engineer part. I know little of him. But English is apparently not his first language? There might be something cultural and in the language issue. Couple "engineer" with "language" and "cultural".. and it explains a lot. Not entirely, though.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: From my post in the original article

          No, but when you consider that Microsoft has a stack ranking system - and has for bloody ever - then the comments about "trust the system" make a lot more sense. In the case of Microsoft, it probably is true! I would be absolutely shocked if Women at Microsoft got less pay for the same work.

          Now, the idea that they may - for whatever reason - not get the same opportunities to get into the higher paying positions, this I have no visibility on.

          But when you understand that in Nadella's world "not rocking the boat" and "trusting the system" made him the CEO of Microsoft, I think that his comments start to make a lot more sense.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: From my post in the original article

            @ Trevor_Pott

            I didnt see his speech but I read about the comments he made. I do wonder if he believes it and as such believes in the correct system (equality for all). The attacks against it seem to be the usual feminist attack everything approach claiming it doesnt exist because their anecdotal experience is proof that women are beaten with sticks and forced to be slaves. But if this guy believes, lives by and works in an equal environment then surely the feminists should be backing his comments and pushing that his environment is the way to go.

            Obviously that depends on the world occupied by the guy but from your comments it sounds like he may actually live in the world feminists claim to want (equality). And if he is pushing for that world to be expanded around microsoft (or just make it more public) then I would have thought people fighting for equality would be supporting that or digging in for more information.

            Note: But of course I wouldnt mistake a feminist for someone fighting for equality

  5. Reg T.

    Nadella an H-1B

    I thought Gates had simply put an H-1B "import" in place as CEO in order to demonstrate his philanthropic nature, which old "Bill the needle" apparently acquired after retirement.

    Why would one expect any human-like statements to proceed from the mouth of an Aryan? Within the MS world, there is likely a "clan" like the Irulas of Tamil Nadu, who Nadella will now pay at rates equal to any other "rat-catchers" within MS. It's only fair. And, they also may eat all the rats they please - free!

    Nardella may actually be a minor league avatar. Yes?

    It is obvious that he is pure MS leadership, following in a distinct leadership mold. Yes?

  6. Al Jones

    Why do they even bother

    when journos will twist their words to pursue an agenda?

    According to the article, "Also on the cards for Microsoft techies is a focus on closing pay gaps for employees. Nadella said the company will make a push to make sure that women and minority workers receive the same pay as others who do the same job."

    And yet the leaked memo states "For example, last year women in the US at the same title and level earned 99.7% of what men earned at the same title and level".

    What the leaked memo actually said is that Microsoft needs to make sure "not only that everyone receives equal pay for equal work, but that they have the opportunity to do equal work".

    It's easy to make sure that everyone at a particular grade or level in a large organization is paid the same amount of money - it's a lot harder to make sure that everyone is at the grade that they deserve.

  7. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Two quick comments

    Two quick comments:

    a) I don't think his comment ("Don't ask for raises because blah-de-blah") was sexist *or* incredibly sexist, just completely out of touch with reality; he assumed for whatever reason that every company automatically gives periodic raises based on either time or performance. Still, he did put his foot deeply into his mouth with this one.

    b) "We all need to think about how Connects are written" . Could someone turn this into English please? I don't care if it's the Queen's English or American; as it stands I can't even make heads or tails of what he's getting at.

  8. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "So while the diversity programs may seem unfair, they are a the "lesser of the evils" and should stay in place as long as they are needed, because they are a "randomization" factor which gives people who are disadvantaged on 1 and 2 a chance to try to succeed."

    No they aren't a "randomization" factor in any meaning of the word, and do not give people who are disadvantaged on 1 and 2 a chance; in your example, it's based ONLY on #1 (in this case gender), NOT #2 ("What school did you go to?") This just makes sure sexism (favoring women over men now) is institutionalized, and that any man who does evereything right except going to the "right" school (and has been subject to the glass ceiling all along) has even less of a chance than before.

    It is what it is, and it'll work as a kludgel to even things out I suppose, but I'd say overall it's just as evil as excluding women to favor men and is in no way "lesser of the evils".

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Aye. Affirmative action is merely a way to discriminate against a group you don't like - typically white males - legally. If two people are up for the same job you pick the one best qualified, period. If two people are up for the same job and appear to be equally qualified to within the error bars of the position, you flip a fucking coin.

      If you want to make hiring "fair" you do double blind interviews and selection, where the age/gender/race/real name/etc of the person applying is never revealed to the interviewer. We have technology that can arrange this.

      The problem is that this would ensure equality, but actual equality isn't what oh, so many people are after.

    2. Charles Manning

      Real affirmative action would not look at school ties, geneder, race etc.

      It would look at the individual and would correct for personal circumstances.

      If you're a white male, raised by alcoholic trailer trash parents then surely you're more deserving of affirmative action than a black female raised by professional parents who nurtured you academically?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He isn't sexist.

    His comment wasn't sexist. In fact, it wasn't necessarily entirely wrong.

    The(loaded) question was: "what advice would you give to women who are uncomfortable asking for raises?"

    He took the word uncomfortable as a key part of the question, and advised that they shouldn't worry too much about asking for a raise, that it isn't the most important thing, the key is to focus on your work and do your best job. The hard work you do will be rewarded. He probably would have given an identical answer to a room full of men who were uncomfortable asking for raises. Just because the audience in the room was women doesn't make him sexist. Just means he gives bad advice or was misinformed. There's a huge difference between giving poor advice and being sexist. In fact, in his eyes the advice he gave was fine seeing as it was told to him by a female manager. Consider that by following that same advice he has worked his way up to become CEO of Microsoft.

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