"Innovation is CREATIVITY that ships" (Steve Jobs). Not a PowerPoint slidedeck.

Satya Nadella came under fire for his comments at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference celebrating women in computing, in which the new Microsoft CEO suggested that “women who don’t ask for raises have “good karma” and that not asking for equal pay with men is a “superpower.”” This controversial comment has gone viral in social media. Moreover “knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along” seems to be at odds with a Gallup poll finding that US worker productivity, engagement and commitment is at an all time low. According to Gallup estimates, this cost is more than $300 billion in lost productivity which, in turn, is dwarfed by the costs of lost joy and happiness.

Perhaps Satya Nadella has an opportunity to learn from Sheryl Sandberg regarding a gender-neutral, equitable and fairness-preserving approach to employee compensation. When Sheryl was talking to Mark Zuckerberg about joining Facebook, she did not accept the first offer and came back to make a counteroffer. Eventually Zuckerberg came back to Sheryl with a much more lucrative proposal. Sheryl emphasizes this point to “negotiate like a man” in her best selling book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Lean In has become a movement.

In the recent issue of McKinsey Quarterly (Sep 2014) there is an article about gender diversity in eBay. Ever since eBay launched the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN), eBay has more than doubled the number of women’s leadership roles.

Apologies by Satya vis-a-vis this remark is appreciated but probably inadequate because, “at the root of these types of challenges there is a pervasive mix of unconscious mindsets, behavior and blind spots that color anyone’s perception of gender.” This unconscious bias has the following impacts:

  • The woman’s motivated cognition and the value of commitment in the workplace
  • The woman’s day-to-day experience while handling a range of issues with higher levels of corporate leadership (only one of them is compensation, which is high on the priority list)

As someone aptly tweeted, “you apologize for what you said but never how you think.” Co-creating healthy professional relationships (*) between employee and manager requires “excelling in the twin journey of loving and leading,” a life construct pioneered by relationship and organizational consultant Blair Glaser — ‘eL squared‘ for brevity.( * : viewed as a strategic alliance) The prominent management guru Tom Peters feels that every leader is in the people-development business and candidly asserts that “I don’t have patience with CEOs who don’t see it that way.”

At the end of the day, no human being or organization is perfect. Every person has a shadow side. Even organizations have a shadow side and need to heal. I regard these shadows as “clouds” in our head (aka skeletons) that need to be busted. Perhaps it is a good idea for entire leadership team [in every company] to mindfully reflect and actively engage in a conversation with their employees at the grassroots level, “leaning in” and listening to their concerns, enhancing their day-to-day experiences and career advancement opportunities, as well as championing gender diversity. Not merely in a town hall meeting but in a retrospective at the end of every month and make improvements incrementally.

Becoming mindful and passionate about recognizing and eliminating unconscious biases is a personal, conscious, therapeutic and transformational journey.

(This is a living blog in progress)

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