Workplace Issues

Reddit Chief Sees Gender Bias in Salary Negotiation

Ellen Pao bans salary negotiation on grounds that it's biased against women.
Katie Kuehner-HebertApril 7, 2015

Reddit’s interim chief executive Ellen Pao has decided that banning salary negotiations during the hiring process would lessen the chance for gender discrimination.

Pao announced the move during a Wall Street Journal interview that the newspaper posted Monday, after she lost a gender discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers venture capital firm.

“Men negotiate harder than women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate,’ Pao told the WSJ. “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.”

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Reddit also hired workplace diversity consultant, as part of the Medford, Mass. company’s effort to “think about how diversity can be part of everything we do,” she said.

A Yahoo! Finance article on Monday said that research supports Pao’s view, including a 2006 study led by Carnegie Mellon University professor Linda Babcock that found that both men and women are less likely to want to work with women who negotiate, while men tend to be much more respected for their negotiation skills. Another 2013 study said that women can be more easily misled and lied to in negotiations than men.

“This might sound like a good idea, in theory at least,” Yahoo! Finance wrote. “It’s hard to argue with any move that might make the hiring process and salary decisions as democratic and equitable as possible. Still, it’s hard to imagine a corporate world where salary offers are the final word. There are people whose entire careers are built upon the promise that they will help people (and women in particular) master the art of negotiating.”