Women’s groups and media have jumped on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, whose comments about women and the pay gap caused a stir this week. Nadella told an audience at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix that women shouldn’t necessarily ask for a raise; rather, they should have “faith that the system will give you the right raises as you go along.”

Nadella clearly lacked a familiarity and nuance with the topic of the wage gap. And I’ll suggest to anyone talking about women in the workplace that they don’t ever use the words “karma” and “super powers” without it being ironic. Still while Nadella made some awkward statements, they were mixed in with some important truths that have been overlooked.

I’ve written extensively about the need to encourage women to be more aggressive when negotiating salary and asking for raises. While you can go too far, most women don’t go far enough. (See chapter four in the Independent Women’s Forum’s new book Lean Together for more.)

But before everyone pounces on Nadella, he gets something right. I would never tell women — or men — to simply “trust the system”; but for those who listened long enough, Nadella addresses a larger problem that often plagues men and women, especially younger workers. This is the idea that good work should immediately be rewarded. In an age where everyone can have a voice through social media, there’s a tendency to think that getting an A, graduating from a good college, publishing an article makes you special or ready for more responsibility and a higher salary. Nadella’s point was that it takes time to earn respect, to earn your employer’s trust, and ultimately to earn higher wages.

He’s walking a fine line — and he might want to get a whole lot more familiar with the topic of the wage gap — but if we want to have an honest conversation about women’s success in the workplace, we should broaden the scope of the debate. Women’s success — like men’s — is not simply calculated in dollars and cents, but in her long-term goals and aspirations.

It’s always a good thing to encourage women to take advantage of the tools that are available to them — and there’s a multi-million dollar industry directed toward helping women succeed in the workplace — and to make more girls more comfortable talking about money and their position within a company. But let’s not think all it takes is asking for a raise.

 Sabrina L. Schaeffer is executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum.