Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sexist Foot in the Mouth--Satya Nadella

Back in December 2001, Cathy Newman wrote this in the National Geographic. "Although Silicon Valley ranked high in interracial trust and diversity of friendships, it landed near the bottom in civic engagement, charitable giving, volunteering, and civic leadership—and in sense of community as well."  Since then philanthropy has been given a boost, but it seems civic engagement and leadership have continued to be well buried under all that instability and the dog-eat-dog, male-dominated world of the hi-tech industry.  Giants such as Microsoft employ only 29% women in their global workforce and 61% are white. Oops, looks like interracial trust has taken a dive as well. Silicon Valley encourages innovations but only technological ones.

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Arizona on Oct 9, 2014, blithely went on a collision course while speaking about gender pay gap. He said that women should not ask for a raise but rely on their "karma" to be rewarded in a system that pays women 78% as much as men. 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. And that, I think, might be one of the additional superpowers that, quite frankly, women who don’t ask for raises have. Because that’s good karma. It’ll come back. Because somebody’s going to know: ‘That’s the kind of person that I want to trust. That’s the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to.’ And in the long-term efficiency, things catch up.”

Nadella has since apologized for his remarks and is scheduled to go back to speak at the Hopper Conference next year. Why does he get a second chance?

Companies in Silicon Valley that can make a difference
What is extremely disturbing is the chauvinism of immigrants.  One would think that success in an adopted country comes with incredible personal sacrifices and an awareness of one's limitations which should foster humility rather than arrogance. Certainly, entitlement and sexism are not the right products of such struggles. Why cannot the CEO of Microsoft be more proactive about addressing gender gap issues in employment and pay? Why is he pretending that this issue is somehow beyond his control and is reserved for an Ultimate Reckoning at the pearly gates?

Newman in her article quotes George J. Leonard, a professor at San Francisco State University--"Confucius says, 'Of course you want to be rich and famous...It's natural. Wealth and fame are what every man desires.' But Confucius understood that there is a moral decision too, and sooner or later an accounting begins."

Now is a good time for the accounting to begin.

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