It is often prudent to hold your tongue to avoid falling victim to “foot-in-the-mouth” disease, more so given the prejudices, not necessarily sexist, that still exist in a world where social scrutiny is instant and explosive.
This is one lesson that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella may have learnt from his advice to women that they should have faith in the system while expecting a pay rise at work. It was perhaps his bad karma that landed him in polemics.
To me, the episode is all about miscommunication, misinterpretation and a quick retraction giving the newly minted CEO some unwanted attention though I do not think there was enough in the remark to make him appear misogynous or sexist.
I feel the remark was blown out of proportion. It could be taken to apply to men as well. Employees, be they men or women, hardly ask their bosses for a pay raise these days where keeping the job will be a priority.
Elevation depends on extraneous factors
Anyone who feels shortchanged in an environment where elevation depends on extraneous factors (such as your equation with the bosses) will just change jobs, not fret and fume over it while staying stuck there.
Employers who walk on the righteous path of justice and equality for all will reward their staff based on their strengths and performance. They may be a rapidly disappearing breed but my reading is that this is what Satya Nadella meant by exhorting women to have faith in the system.
The world waiting for any missteps from Satya found this an excuse to explode in cyberspace. It was good of him to apologise in an effort to defuse the situation though I do not believe there was a need to do so. It will have been just enough to offer an explanation to put his statement in the right perspective.
But he may have wanted to avoid a situation where the indignation, both within and outside Microsoft, will simmer and be a distraction for him at work. To that extent, he may have done the right thing!
G Joslin Vethakumar