NEW DELHI: Amid Microsoft's Indian-origin CEO Satya Nadella's gaffe on linking pay hike for women to 'good karma', research shows that a considerable pay gap emerges between men and women staff in Indian IT sector over time, despite they normally starting at similar levels.
Speaking at a conference on women in technology sector, Nadella said last week in the US that "it's not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along."
"Because that's good karma. It'll come back because somebody's going to know that's the kind of person that I want to trust," he had said.
This created a furore, including on social media platforms, and Nadella promptly termed his comments as "inarticulate" and "completely wrong". He tweeted and also issued a memo to Microsoft employees to explain his position.
"Although it's unfortunate that a senior leader like Nadella made such comments, it's commendable that he quickly realized his mistake and issued a swift and sincere apology," Catalyst India WRC executive director Shachi Irde said.
Founded in 2011, Catalyst India WRC is a membership community composed of 58 leading corporations and professional firms committed to building inclusive workplaces that expand opportunities for women and business in corporate India.
It is part of US-based Catalyst group, which was founded in 1962 and is a leading non-profit membership organisation expanding opportunities for women and business.
"What's good for women is good for men, business, economies and society as a whole," Irde said.
According to Catalyst global research, there are considerable gender pay gaps within the tech sector as well as across other industry sectors.
"In India specifically, our research on the tech sector reported that women and men start out as equals with equal pay and responsibility, and similar aspirations to the highest levels, including that of CEO.
"But a gender gap emerges over time. Women lag behind men (to a tune of about Rs 3.8 lakhs or $6,000) by the time they are about 12 years into their careers," Irde said.
Intentional action and leadership is needed to root out these disparities within organisations.
"We look to leaders like Nadella to ensure that appropriate action is put to words so that talented women and men can contribute, achieve and get paid fairly for their work," Irde said.
GlobalHunt MD Sunil Goel said "on a broader term this (Nadella's comments) should have been that good worker whether male/female should concentrate and focus on working hard and burn their larger portion of energy in work rather than thinking of how to negotiate better.
In an open letter to Satya Nadella published on Time Magazine website, Nilofer Merchant wrote that "Bias against women in tech is fixable. But only with conscious leadership."
"While achieving wage equality is important, what is more important is creating a new normal where women don't have to live by the old rules created by men in the industrial era," said Merchant, a US-based renowned strategist and advisor to many bluechip companies globally.
Instead of waiting for the industry to change (miraculously), why not be the change, she asked.
"Tomorrow, you re-level and compensate every woman on the same pay scale as your men. That would change the industry, and you have it within your powers to do it.
"It would redeem your stupidity yesterday. But more importantly, it would signal to the industry what leadership actually looks like," Merchant said.