Dear Satya

My letter to you and all tech CEOs


Dear Satya,

Last week at Grace Hopper, you stuck your foot in it. I read the transcript, and your very sincere mea culpa. I understand that Microsoft has always had the cultural bent that employees must drive their own career growth. A manager of mine at Microsoft once told me “if you want to be a lead, find a group of people who believe in you and lead them.” Yes, the system is set up to reward hard work and talent. And yet, your company — and broadly across the tech industry — pays women less than it pays men. It’s that simple.

You are not a bad guy, Satya. You probably believe that women are as smart and capable as men. The women at Microsoft are mostly well compensated, and treated with respect. And yet, your company pays women less than it pays men.

There are hundreds of subtle factors that contribute to this, often these factors are not overtly sexist, but it doesn’t negate the problem and it doesn’t contribute to the solution.

So as a leader in the tech industry, blaze a trail! Take a hard look at why women get paid less. Consider that the women in your company enable it to survive and thrive; that the contributions of women in tech may be different than those if their male counterparts, and potentially undervalued. Think of ways you can use your vast influence to raise up women, increase their potential, enable them to grow into more strategic roles. Consider that the woman who is afraid to advocate for herself doesn’t lack ability, she lacks confidence that the system will know what to do with it. Perhaps she has learned from experience that men are threatened by her intelligence or that to disagree will get her branded overly emotional, difficult, and uncooperative.

It is by increasing the scope and power of women in technology that we, as women, can begin to define our own systems that find value in our voice. Help us by being the leader in recognizing the importance of different values and approaches.

Thanks,

Sharma Hendel
and all women in technology

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