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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's Clueless Comments About Women and Pay Rises Sums Up an Endemic Issue

10/10/2014 11:51 BST | Updated 10/12/2014 10:59 GMT

The current popular thinking around gender pay gap is the importance of getting men involved, but perhaps there should be a condition: as long as they don't say utterly moronic things.

Cue Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who said that when it comes to pay rises, women don't need to ask for them but should put their faith in the system.

There are three major issues with this, which I'll try to explain in a calm, non-ragey manner.

First, we don't have gender pay equality - women bosses still earn up to 35% less than their male counterparts.

It is baffling, upsetting and ire-inducing that in 2014 this is still the case, when we don't tolerate discrimination in the workplace against a person's racial or religious background and sexual orientation. If Nadella's 'system' works so fantastically, then surely all female employees should be paid the same as men?

Secondly, I very much doubt Nadella, during his rise to becoming CEO just "trusted in the system", nor do I believe that the majority of his male employees do the same.

Thirdly, the biggest issue behind women getting equal pay or fair pay, is that the majority of us are universally crap at asking for what we're worth.

I know one woman - just one - who feels confident going in to a review to negotiate her pay, while the rest of the 99% absolutely dread it. Yours truly included.

Women, more so than men, focus on the 10% of the job they can't do, and then use that as a stick to beat themselves repeatedly. A man on the other hand will most often think "Wahoo! I can do 90% of the job, aren't I amazing!"

That's not to say men don't feel insecure or worry about being sacked. But the passivity that is encouraged in young girls in school (or at least my generation) has much bigger ramifications when it comes to getting a pay rise.

We are grateful when we get one, rather than thinking: "Yes, I absolutely deserved this."

There have been plenty of times in my career where I was made to feel like I should be lucky to receive a bump in salary, rather than a neutral acknowledgement that I was due the raise because I'd worked bloody hard.

That doesn't mean that to get what we want, we need to be overly aggressive or resort to ultimatum techniques when we want a pay increase.

In fact, to echo what Theresa May said a few days ago to a group of women marking the launch of the Women Ahead mentoring scheme, we need to absolutely embrace that women don't have to employ the same tactics as men to get ahead.

After spectacularly placing his boot in his mouth, Nadella sent an email to his employees (a whopping 29% of whom are women) saying: "I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it's deserved... If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask."

While it takes a big man to acknowledge that he said something wrong, it is going to take a lot more to instill confidence in women to ask for the money they deserve, and more importantly - that the male bosses who employ them take it seriously.