There is an outbreak of a terrible virus here in America. No not that one. We mean “JBD” – “Joe Biden Disease.”
The symptoms are when a prominent figure blurts out comments in public demonstrating that they have not given a moment’s thought to how their statement will sound to others.
Among the latest to be infected was Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft who was speaking at an event celebrating women in computing and was asked his advice for women who are uncomfortable asking for a raise.
“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” Mr. Nadella said. “That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have,” he said. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”
Not long after Nadella tweeted out a correction — if not an apology:
Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise. Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias #GHC14
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) October 9, 2014
Pay equality between the sexes is important — and it appears gaffe equality is too.
Last night actress Gwyneth Paltrow was speaking at a Democratic National Committee fund raiser. Reportedly, while introducing President Obama she said that equal pay is very important to her “as a working mother.” According to Forbes, she pulls in a mere $19 million annually. Nice work if you can get it.
Our view is that an interview — or a speech — is no time for original thought. Folks like Biden, Nadella, and Paltrow ought to prepare specific talking points — and then have someone not beholden to them (and preferably an average Joe – but not Joe Biden) review the the talking points to ensure there are no guffaw producing gaffes in them.
Your own staff may be too close to you to be willing to tell you you sound like a jerk. Once the talking points are vetted, the prominent person needs to be convinced to stick to the script. Hard to do with folks enamored with their own brilliance — but a worthy effort to maintain the health of their image.