Karma and the Teachable Moment
It was announced this week that diversity training, which has been optional, is now required for all employees at Microsoft. The goal is to help people identify "the unconscious biases about diversity and race..." employees may bring to the workplace. (Here's the article from the Puget Sound Business Journal)
This mandate is comes about eight months after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was humbled by the backlash to his comments made at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. He famously suggested that women rely on karma when it comes to getting raises from their employers.
I frequently get asked about what leaders should do when the create big public messes like this one? And in this instance Nadella is taking the right approach in learning from his mistakes. He was quick to apologize and admit that he was wrong. And since then he's been listening and taking action to change the culture at Microsoft from the top down. It takes courage and leadership to make this happen. It's communication at its best.
It takes a while to transform culture in a company and whole lot longer to change the culture of an industry. But when a leader of Nadella's stature puts consistent energy, resources, and communication behind the effort, things will change for the better.