Microsoft chief sorry over pay-rise advice for women

Mr Nadella suggested it was 'good karma' not to ask for a rise

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In the overwhelmingly male tech industry, the new CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, is among Silicon Valley’s most powerful men.

But he has apologised and admitted he was “completely wrong” for saying that women should not ask for salary increases, but “have faith” the system will reward them.

Mr Nadella made the remarks at an event to celebrate women in computing, where he suggested it was “good karma” not to ask for a rise. His comments drew instant criticism, especially given the industry pays men more on average than women.

During an onstage interview in Phoenix on Thursday, Mr Nadella was asked for advice to women uncomfortable asking for a rise. “It’s not really about asking for the raise,” he replied. “But knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.”

Mr Nadella’s interlocutor, Microsoft director Maria Klawe, drew cheers from the audience when she disagreed, saying women should investigate pay levels at their companies and ask for rises when they felt it was appropriate. Microsoft later posted an apology from the CEO on its website, in which he said that he had answered the question “completely wrong”, adding: “Men and women should get equal pay for equal work.”

According to Microsoft figures, 29 per cent of its employees are women.