Reddit CEO Ellen Pao is employing a hiring tactic that she insists will help close the gender wage gap: She’s eliminating salary negotiations for new Reddit employees across the board, lauding it as a triumph for feminism and creating “a more level playing field.” Per the new system, instead of negotiating for more money or benefits upon getting hired, prospective employees can now negotiate “to convert cash to equity if workers want more equity in exchange for a lower salary.”
Pao, who recently lost a sex discrimination suit against her former employer, told The Wall Street Journal, “Men negotiate harder than women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate. So as part of our recruiting process we don’t negotiate with candidates. We come up with an offer that we think is fair. If you want more equity, we’ll let you swap a little bit of your cash salary for equity, but we aren’t going to reward people who are better negotiators with more compensation. We ask people what they think about diversity, and we did weed people out because of that.”
I call bulls*it. Any woman who gets penalized for negotiating the same way any man negotiates needs to file a lawsuit, period. That said:
Refusing to negotiate with potential employees doesn’t create a “level playing field.” It simply punishes those women who are capable of negotiating effectively. Negotiation is a job skill, period. If an employee doesn’t have that skill, frankly, why should they be paid as well as an employee who does? Negotiations don’t stop at salaries: Employees often have to negotiate with clients, with colleagues and even with competitors. it’s a product features, release dates, etc. You have to negotiate with other players, whether they’re other employees or clients and customers. If you’re not capable of negotiating a salary, you may have a hard time negotiating elsewhere, and that makes you less of an asset to any firm.
Instead of helping women learn to negotiate more effectively, what Reddit is saying, essentially, is, “Women are bad at negotiating a salary. We have so little faith in women that we don’t expect them to improve at salary negotiations, so we’re getting rid of them altogether.” This is simply saving money under the guise of preventing sexism. And frankly, that’s pretty sexist in itself: There’s such a lack of belief in the strength, business savvy, and chutzpah of females that they’ve just given up. That’s very, very sad.
That said, see the links below this post for advice on negotiating a salary that you deserve.