When Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, was asked what advice he has for women seeking a pay raise, but who are not comfortable asking, he said. “It is not really about asking for a raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along. And that might be one of the additional superpowers that women who don’t ask for the raise have, because that is good karma. It’ll come back. Long term efficiency solves it.” (from “Hit Refresh”, Satya Nadella’s book)
When I read this, my blood pressure when high and I felt how every cell of my body was shouting “WTF?!?!”
“This is so wrong” I thought to myself. “Have faith on the system? Really? The last times I did I was screwed consistently…”
After the fact, which means after he said it, Satya Nadella apologies for what he said, but it was too late. He had dropped the bomb.
Here are some episodes from my 15+ year career in the software industry, the one Satya started his career in and grew to become Microsoft’s CEO. I worked for 3 great software brands, let’s call them Company1, Company2 and the BestOfAll3.
Episode1: The year is 2005 and I have been with Company1 for almost 3 years. I moved to a new role, where the manager really wanted to have me join his team. As soon as I joined he said “Krassi, you’re earning the lowest salary of all team members. But I know that after the first year you will do a great job and earn a decent salary increase.” I knew my boss meant it and I trusted him. Next thing I know he changed jobs and left for another country. Another guy became my manager. And although my ex-boss shared with the new guy his intentions to raise my salary after the 1st year, the new manager didn’t give a damn. My only chance was to work hard and wait for the system to reward me.
And we know…..the system is a bitch!
Episode2: After some major disappointments, I decided to move to a new role and I knew the stakes would be high. This was my chance for my star to shine. My actual manager was not the program leader, which means that although I had worked over 1 year with program leader, he was not the HR responsible to a decide what salary increase I were to be awarded.
I worked super hard over more than a year. When the time came for the promotion round, I was told it was Josh’s turn to get a promotion this year and not mine. It was Johs’s turn? Are you kidding me?….But I was consoled with the statement that I join the pool of “Company1 top talent”, which basically means a tap on the shoulder and 0% salary increase. Josh is a loser….has always been….still with Company1 waiting patiently for his pension….what else?
I was absolutely devastated. I called the SVP, who I personally knew. He asked “Krassi, did you have an arrangement with your manager to get a promotion after this project?”
I said, “No, Mike, I didn’t. I thought I would first show results and then ask for what I deserve.” His response: “No, this is not how it works“.
Good karma, Mr. Nadella, right? The system will reward you, right? What a royal BS?!
Episode3: One of my best bosses at Company1 advised me to stop fighting the system. “There is no way in the world, you can get what you deserve, just because you had a poor start (low salary) with Company1. You cannot compensate for it. Period. If you want a higher salary, you have to leave and the sooner, the better“, he said.
Episode4: I left Company1 and moved to Company2. I got a decent salary increase or so I thought. 2 years in the job, a softhearted colleague shared the range of his salary and I figured out I earn €20K less than him for the same job. I knew I negotiated pretty poorly. Needless to say, there were no salary increases in Company2. I looked at it as a learning opportunity.
I had to move on. After 15 years in the software industry, I joined the BestOfAll3 companies in 2017 and for the first time EVER I know I earn what I deserve.
Final thought: I stand on the shoulders of men (I didn’t have women as managers until recently) who helped me grow, kept me grounded, recognized my talents & hard work and rewarded me accordingly.
I’m also thankful to the assholes managers, by-products of the system we work and live in, for showing me profound levels of mediocrity, so that I know what to run away from.