The men in charge that fell foul of making sexist comments

(3) Females should rely on karma if they want a raise

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, hit headlines in 2014 when he declared that instead of asking for a pay rise, female employees should rely on “karma” to give them the rewards they deserve.

“It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that system will actually give you the right raises as you go along,” he said.

Female executives did thus not need to push for pay equality.

Three tips for any organisation to thrive from Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella

Cue internet outrage.

He tried to back tack though, declaring later that he had been “inarticulate”. He also told staff he had answered the question “completely wrong”, saying: “I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”

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(4) “Lipstick, heels – good”

In February 2016, a court case involving a female assistant showed the potential cost of defending discrimination cases. David Noake, the boss behind a banned cancer “wonder drug” was found guilty of sex discrimination after writing on his personal assistant’s job application: “Red lipstick, heels – good; tattoos, do not approve; wearing a dress – excellent.”

She also stated that Noakes remarked after interviewing a woman: “We can’t hire her as she is ugly and overweight and I only employ beautiful women.”

On another occasion he allegedly said: “How are we supposed to hire her, did you see what she was wearing and the size of her? We can’t have her on the frontline representing the cancer drug looking like that.”

His assistant even claimed that he once told her a colleague would only be polite to her if she was good-looking.

First Women Summit 2016: Should prejudice sometimes be ignored to further female agenda?

He was taken to an employment tribunal by said assistant, Lucia Pagliarone, who further claimed she had witnessed sexist treatment after going to work for him. She was awarded compensation of £10,500.

Everyone puts their foot in it from time to time – some of us more than others. But for company CEOs, saying the wrong thing, even if their intentions are good, can be disastrous.

Concerned with issues surrounding gender diversity in business? Don’t miss the Real Business First Women programme:

Drawing on years of the First Women movement and the phenomenal network of pioneering women the Awards has created, this programme features The First Women Awards and The First Women Summit  designed to educate, mentor and inspire women in all levels of business.

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