Reddit Has A Crazy Solution For Equalizing Pay

New hires at Reddit have one less thing to worry about during the hiring process: Salary negotiations. 

"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," interim CEO of Reddit Ellen Pao told The Wall Street Journal.

Instead, Pao says Reddit will propose an offer it thinks is fair (which is, you know, what you kind of expect when you do negotiate a salary at a new job) and then, if you want, you can exchange some of that income for greater equity in the company. Reddit won't reward those who are lawyer-level negotiators with higher pay.

This feels a little bit like what we'd call a younger sibling scenario ("Oh no, the game you're playing is too hard for your little brother or sister; make it easier, so they can play, too"). Having the negotiating bar lowered because women supposedly aren't good enough at it feels like a cop-out. However, it would have benefits for women — even if they are shrewd negotiators. 

"Eliminating salary negotiations may be a promising step toward greater fairness in the workplace," Wharton professor and Lean In campaign partner Adam Grant told Mashable. Because, even when women do negotiate fiercely, they may be penalized for abandoning traditional gender norms, he says. And, when they don't, some companies may take advantage of the less-aggressive negotiating of "the fairer sex." 

"From personal experience in corporate tech America, it is definitely true," Prana CEO Andre Persidsky told Refinery29. Persidsky previously worked various roles in the game-development industry. "And, I’ve seen it on numerous occasions — that 'cost' savings unfairly occur on women’s salaries, taking advantage that they may not negotiate as aggressively as men, even though they are as or more qualified and committed to their work."

Similar pay-related issues were part of what brought Pao to trial last month against her former employer, Silicon Valley VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Pao claimed the VC firm failed to promote her from junior partner to general partner because of gender bias, and that she was let go after writing a memo insinuating as much. Pao lost the case, but succeeded in shining light onto this type of subtle workplace sexism. 

Eliminating negotiations does make sense on some levels. Unless part of your job requirement is that you be an aggressive negotiator, why does negotiation even need a place in the hiring process? The move is certainly unique, and not unwarranted. 

But, while it could certainly level the playing field and bring pay equity to employees of any gender (or negotiating ability), there could also be negative consequences. Persidsky fears such a move could scare away talented prospects (both male and female) who might otherwise have applied, had the salary been open to negotiation. It could cause shrewd negotiators to go through the hiring process at Reddit and then use their offered salary as leverage at another company. And, the move could end up leaving workers across the industry with lower pay if companies realize this is an effective way to save money.

It will be interesting to see if any other companies or startups follow Pao's lead and also eliminate salary negotiations in the coming months. 
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