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Microsoft CEO unveils new diversity plan after “humbling” experience

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Microsoft is launching new diversity and inclusion efforts after CEO Satya Nadella’s comments last week that women should not ask for a pay rise, but trust that the system and “karma” will reward them instead.

Nadella, who made the comments at the Grace Hopper conference, apologised again in an internal memo to employees, GeekWire reported, saying the lessons learned from his poorly-worded comments has been “a humbling and learning experience”.

“One of the answers I gave at the conference was generic advice that was just plain wrong. I apologize. For context, I had received this advice from my mentors and followed it in my own career. I do believe that at Microsoft in general good work is rewarded, and I have seen it many times here. But my advice underestimated exclusion and bias — conscious and unconscious — that can hold people back. Any advice that advocates passivity in the face of bias is wrong.”

After admitting his mistakes, Nadella went on to outline three areas which the company plans to focus on with regards to diversity in the organisation.

This includes a stronger focus on equal pay and equal opportunity for equal work, the need to recruit more diverse talent at all levels, and the need to expand training for all employees on how to foster an inclusive culture.

“As we make diversity and inclusion central to Microsoft’s business, we have the opportunity to spark change across the industry as well,” Nadella wrote.

He ended his memo with:

“When I took on my role as CEO I got advice to be bold and be right. Going to the Grace Hopper conference to further the discussion on women in technology was bold, yet my answer to a key question was not right. I learned, and we will together use this learning to galvanize the company for positive change. And I’ll certainly go back to Grace Hopper next year to continue the dialogue. We will make Microsoft an even better place to work and do great things.”

Read the full memo here.

Image: Microsoft

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