Microsoft’s CEO should know better

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

When I read about Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella’s comments last week about women in high-tech asking for raises I nearly choked on my Geritol. According to him, women shouldn’t be asking for raises. Instead, they should simply trust in the system that there’s more coming their way. I’m so apoplectic I can hardly articulate a response. If I learned nothing else during my forty years in the corporate world it’s that no one is going to walk down the hall and pat you on the head for being a good girl and back it up with a nice raise. If Nadella had his way, women would toil silently and blissfully alongside men doing the same work while watching the men reap the benefits while the women wait for a few crumbs to be thrown in their direction, if they’re very good girls.

Women's work according to S D. Keep your mouth shut and keep working.
Women’s work according to Satya Nadella.  Keep your mouth shut and keep working.

If I had taken his advice I would have spent my entire career on a reception desk, making a subsistence salary while probably simultaneously running the entire office, directing sales, handling P.R., keeping the company solvent, setting corporate policy and generally doing the work of three or four people. I’ve watched mediocre, poorly qualified men rise to the top simply because they were great self-promoters while brilliant, hard-working women are passed over. You know what I’m talking about don’t you Boomer Broads. We’ve all witnessed the subtle discrimination over the years and while the business world has improved, Nadella’s comments demonstrate there is still an underlying layer of prejudice. Not all CEOs think like he does but these dinosaurs still do exist.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, BOOMERBROADcast on the issue:

Take care of yourself in business. We’ve watched men to do it without hesitation.  If I’d taken better care of myself, I’d have had more job satisfaction, a fatter pension and much lower cortisol levels. Do not be the dutiful, hardworking girl waiting for a pat on the head. Set your goals. State what you want and if you deserve it, ask for it. The worst they can say is no. At best, you’ll be able to buy a condo and take a vacation. You’re worth it. And buying your own diamonds proves it.

Protect your interests and take care of yourself first. We’re all familiar with the airline safety procedure telling us to put the oxygen mask over our own face before that of children. The benefits may seem obvious to most of us but not everyone gets it. This metaphor applies to life in general and in my experience no more so than in the business world. Boomer Broads were raised to be dutiful, considerate, self-effacing models of compliance. In a generation of women who were now expected to also hold our own in the working world, we carried these values into the workplace. As a result, we were easily taken advantage of and not always given our just rewards. How many Boomers and other women do you know who worked their asses off and never received the recognition they deserved.

. . . . . What I learned is that it’s the responsibility of each one of us when we are doing an excellent job to insist upon the commensurate rewards. That may take the form of a higher salary, a promotion, an extra week of vacation or some other type of recognition. I worked for a very enlightened employer who would probably have complied if I had raised the issue of higher salary or more staff. The fault was my own. Instead of asking for additional staff, my way of coping was to string yellow “CAUTION” tape up around my desk and work until midnight.”

How can a man achieve the level of CEO of Microsoft when he has the temerity to say something so patently stupid. I hope Melissa Gates had a word with him. While Nadella later apologized for his comments, the damage has been done. As a result of his Freudian slip we now know what he’s really thinking.

Click on the link to order directly.
Click on the link to order directly.


And don’t forget to order your own copy of BOOMERBROADcast,

Baby Boomer reflects on the journey from living life in the Sixties to living life in her Sixties, at or for the Kindle Edition

Get a head start on Christmas shopping.




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[…] If I were to offer only one overriding piece of advice to working women, it would strongly and unhesitatingly be take care of yourself first. Female baby boomers were raised to be agreeable, compliant and conciliatory good girls. Don’t rock the boat. The depth and persistence of this skewed thinking was made shockingly clear last year when Microsoft’s C.E.O. Satya Nadella casually commented that women would receive their rewards and recognition by being patient and waiting politely for promotions. His comments were disgraceful and shockingly revealing. Women could hardly believe a senior business executive could be so stupid and… Read more »


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