Hours after Microsft Corp.’s chief executive set off a gender-equity ruckus by seeming to praise women who don’t speak up for a raise, Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick convened business leaders Friday on new plans to move more aggressively on pay equity and more business opportunities for women.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took a social-media pounding, apologized, and reiterated his support for equal pay for women and men doing the same jobs after saying Thursday: “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, and that, I think, might be one of the additional super powers that, quite frankly, women who don't ask for a raise have because that's good karma.’’ Nadella’s remarks generated particular controversy because while 30 percent of Microsoft employees are women, just 17 percent of its managers and engineers are.
Patrick said he couldn’t quite understand the context of Nadella’s remarks but said he believes everyone who thinks they deserve a raise should speak up, and said that paying women and men the same for doing the same jobs isn’t just a question of fairness and ethics but “it’s also just good management.’’
Patrick was speaking at a gathering of the Center for Women and Business at Bentley University where a gubernatorial task force overseen by Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rachel Kaprielian presented its recommendations for moving towards wage equality in Massachusetts and generating more business leadership opportunities for women. They include finding ways to encourage more girls to take science, mathematics, and technology classes in high school to get them on a path to engineering and technical jobs, and also more efforts around flexible work schedules and paid family leave to help women better accommodate both outside-the-home working careers and child-rearing.
“Today, we need as many of the speakers said, all the talent on the field suited up and ready to play if we are going to compete and win, and here in Massachusetts, we want to compete and win,’’ Patrick said.
The governor is also pushing for at least 86 more companies to join an effort built around the Bentley Center to share ideas and policies to help more women thrive and rise in leadership in the business world. So far, 14 companies are participating, and Patrick said he hopes to get the group to at least 100. The 14 participating include many of the pillars of the Bay State business world: Biogen Idec, Bulfinch Group, Citizens Financial Group, Dassault Systemes, Eastern Bank, Liberty Mutual Insurance, National Grid, Pearson, Raytheon, Rockland Trust, Santander Bank, Suffolk Construction, State Street, and Vertex Pharmceuticals.