Should Tech Firms Ban Salary Negotiations?

Earlier this month, Reddit CEO Ellen Pao told the Wall Street Journal that she would eliminate salary negotiations for new hires.

“So as part of our recruiting process we don’t negotiate with candidates,” she said. “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.”

Why did Pao decide to pursue that somewhat-radical path? After all, the ability to negotiate over salary seems like one of those bedrock principles of modern corporate life—innumerable websites and books offer advice on how to leverage as much money (and perks) as possible from a new employer.

But Pao feels that women are at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating salary: “Men negotiate harder than women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate.” In her mind, eliminating the prospect of negotiations levels that part of the playing field somewhat.

As pointed out by Mashable and other publications, a handful of studies over the past decade have suggested that men indeed tend to negotiate more assertively than women.

Some pundits applauded Pao’s move. “I think ending that kind of one-side negotiation is important,” Noreen A. Farrell, executive director at women’s rights advocacy group Equal Rights Advocates, told Fast Company, “and I applaud Ellen Pao’s willingness to test an out-of-the-box solution to a real problem impacting women and people of color in the workplace.”

But not everybody seemed onboard. “It’s true that women don’t fare as well in salary negotiations, but the fact is, they don’t fare as well with compensation generally as men,” career-advice columnist Alexandra Levit told Mashable, “and this [move by Reddit] won’t solve the age-old problem of unconscious bias.”

Reddit is a popular property at the moment, so it has no trouble pulling in top talent. But is eliminating salary negotiations something that smaller, relatively unknown companies can do, and still attract the people they need? Will people feel cheated if they can’t squeeze out a few more perks and dollars from their next workplace?

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50 Responses to “Should Tech Firms Ban Salary Negotiations?”

  1. I wonder if Ellen Pao negotiated her salary with the board when she became CEO of Reddit?

    Saturn tried a no-negotiation car purchase experience which buyers liked, but they pitched it better to the public. Ellen may be well meaning, but the quotes here give the impression that the Reddit is throwing out a deal, and the candidate can take it or leave it, and by the way candidate, go stuff yourself.

    Once I join Reddit, do I have the ability to negotiate for stretch assignments? Set targets with management for the things I need to do to get promotions and good reviews? Negotiate priorities with shareholders on projects I manage to get the best outcomes for all parties?

    No, Ellen. Negotiation is a required business skill. If the problem is that women can’t negotiate well, help them. You seem to have figured it out. Don’t short sell the intelligence of women, and don’t be surprised if candidates see your messaging as a unilateral non-negotiable ultimatum.

    • Bummer! Almost the first thing I thought of is how Ellen Pao determined her own salary! This idea goes a long way towards figuring out how she thinks — I suppose she wants the progressive liberal anti-capitalists to manage our society, political arena and economy. Good luck, Ms. Pao!

    • >Once I join Reddit, do I have the ability to negotiate for stretch assignments? Set targets with
      >management for the things I need to do to get promotions and good reviews? Negotiate priorities
      >with shareholders on projects I manage to get the best outcomes for all parties?

      Why do you get to tell your bosses what your targets are or what your assignments should be? See again, in that scenario, people who are polite and humble and follow all the rules and do what they’re supposed to do get screwed because they don’t pressure their bosses to do less and get more.

  2. Lex Mercatoria

    Given that corporate America tends to view IT/software folks as a commodity–we’re all just “labor”, you know–and that this view is becoming more prevalent, her attitude makes sense.

    After all, does anyone really try to haggle on the price of a cheap Chinese-made piece of junk at the Dollar store?

    • Good point, but you also get what you pay for. Low wages & low potential for raises will make talented employees leave, so you’ll be stuck with the bottom of the barrel.

      Then again, if the starting salary is $bank$ then I don’t think negotiations are necessary. But for some sneaking reason I get the feeling they aren’t.

  3. Derek Bredensteiner

    I’m a male and horrible at negotiating. I find difficulty in building healthy relationships with individuals who do negotiate, and who think their skill at negotiating makes them better/worth more than others.

    This makes me want to apply at Reddit, purely from the selfish viewpoint of being able to work with others who may also have a distaste for the “negotiation culture”.

    • Derek,

      Many of us are practitioners of “Ethical Negotiation”, and don’t use “Positional Negotiation”. Positional Negotiation is when each party states their demands. This gets you backed into a position you can’t get out of, and it becomes a contest of wills. In Ethical Negotiation we seek to find a solution that benefits both parties. When I approach people at work for a favor, I go with a number of things in hand that they might find useful. Many times we can exchange something that has more value to the other person than it does to ourselves. One person didn’t loose, and the other person didn’t win. We both won. Just like peanut butter on chocolate, it’s greater than the sum of it’s parts.

      To help you specifically, when negotiation have in mind three things. What’s the best offer you envision, what’s the least offer you can accept, and what’s the position in the middle that you think you can live with. Also have a list in your mind of how your priorities stack rank. You may give concessions on things that aren’t that important to you, but may be of value to the other party. Finally, don’t drive stakes in the ground. If you say “I need X salary!” and the other party says “We can only go as high as <X", then what's your next move? You've just damaged your credibility.

      For you, I recommend going to This will give you an idea of what others in the same rolls are making at a given company. It helps provide you with information that the other party would normally keep from you.

      One final thing. Just because YOU are not negotiating does not mean negotiations are not occurring. You're just passing on your turn. As a hiring manager from a high tech company who's products you use on a daily basis, I assure you we're using our resources to get the best candidate at the lowest price. You might as well use your skills to find the best job with the best level of compensation.

      • Ethical negotiation? How can any legal negotiation possibly be unethical? The purpose of negotiation is to arrive at an agreement that is the best possible one for you, and one that the other party will accept. By voluntarily limiting your own negotiation tactics which the other party isn’t obligated to do, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage for no good reason. People don’t seem to notice how companies commonly take advantage of a down economy to reduce salaries of new hires, benefits, and requests for raises. Most every publicly traded or large company in America would pay you the legal minimum if they knew you had no other options. If their goal is to pay you the absolute minimum possible, why would you do anything that would put you at a disadvantage in getting the absolute most you possibly can? Especially if you have a family that depends on you for financial security.

        • Robert, many things are unethical but legal.

          Ethical negotiation is best applied when dealing with people you will be doing business with in the future. An individual with a best for me too bad for you attitude when negotiating with shareholders and coworkers is a nightmare to deal with, and it’s bad for business, and slows down work.

          Adding ethical negotiation to your repertoire of negotiation skills is not limiting, but is another tool at your disposal. Other than that, I do agree with your comments about companies getting the most for the least. And they are trained to rake you over the coals so keep your game face on.

      • >What’s the best offer you envision, what’s the least offer you can accept, and
        >what’s the position in the middle that you think you can live with.

        And in my own experience, when you don’t want to divulge past salary history (partly because of working at start-ups and working for a friend) you get told, “It really doesn’t matter what you say. If we think you’re not worth that much we’ll offer less, and if we think you’re worth more we’ll offer more. Just name a number – what ‘s the lowest number you would accept?”

        Then you give that number and magically, at the final meeting, you get an offer that’s just $1K over the number you named and told they’d like to offer more but “it’s out of my hands”. In reality the company has no pay scale so it’s 100% in the hiring manager’s hands, you don’t negotiate because it’s “out of his hands” and we’re all going to be on the same team so he wouldn’t screw you, right? Then a few months later you start to suspect something is up, pay for salary market research, and learn you’re making 40% below what you’re worth on the market. When confronted you’re told you’re getting what everyone else is, when you reveal you know what everyone else is getting you’re told it’s the market rate, when you show your research you’re told they have different research and when you ask to know which firm did their research and you’d like to see a copy of it they glare at you in silence.

        > As a hiring manager from a high tech company who’s products you use on a
        >daily basis, I assure you we’re using our resources to get the best candidate at
        >the lowest price.

        And to some of us, apparently including a lot of women, that feels immoral, like stealing. For those of us who grew up with Mr. Rogers, our natural tendency is to want a “fair” price, not the best price. In fact, for many of us, maybe even offer a bit more than fair price in a spirit of good will. And that’s why Reddit is so interesting. They’re not trying to screw you or take advantage of people who don’t know their worth or who aren’t selfish. They’re offering a fair price, period. Frankly, it’s awesome.

    • Derek, I’m with you. I once ended up taking a job at a billion-dollar company with no debt for 40% below market rate because, among other things, after going through the interview processes the hiring manager gave a spiel about “not having a job for me” (what about the job I was applying for?) but he likes to hire people not fill positions so he could bring me on. He named a price and said he’d like to do better but it was “out of his hands”. I took him at his word so why negotiate if it was “out of his hands”?

      Turns out he was apparently fishing for people who didn’t know their true worth (I had come from a start-up and didn’t know market values and hadn’t even been paid the last few months there as it went out of business so really needed a job). Contrary to being “out of his hands”, it turns out the company had no pay scale at all and it was totally up to the manager! He offered me only $1K more than what I had gotten during the middle part of my tenure with the start-up (and he had someone else trick me into giving up that number). I realized later even the HR guy was trying to warn me when he walked me to the final meeting and said right before I went in “Just a word advice: don’t settle for less than you’re worth”. He must have known what was going to happen.

      I ended up quitting 6 months later which didn’t look good and hurt my job prospects and other companies tended not to believe I was as good as I was, or did what I did, despite glowing references from co-workers, because the salaries I’d been paid were laughable (at that job, people with half the experience were earning at least $10K more than I was).

      I’ve been screwed time and time again by being a nice guy or believing you should actually trust the people you work for and were all on the same team (working for my best friend for eight years didn’t help I guess). I was practically pumping my fist in the air when I read this article and thrilled that a company wasn’t going to be trying to screw the people it was hiring. This is a great idea and I hope it becomes popular enough that there is pressure on more companies to implement it as well.

  4. Now I know I will never consider working at Reddit, partially because of this stupid policy and partly because it appears Ellen Pao cannot accept responsibility for her own failures and I wouldn’t want to work for any company run by such a person. Anyone who is a top software engineer (or top whatever) is going to do the same if they are smart. Why should the top people in their field take less pay because some people are afraid of their own shadow and/or financially incompetent? When you negotiate your initial salary or a raise, management will expect you to have solid evidence and solid reasoning backing up your request. I’m sorry if some people don’t have the guts to ask their boss for a raise, however that isn’t my problem. Success in the business world requires you to have the courage to go after what you want. As they say, no guts no glory. If you don’t have the ambition, drive, and/or the courage to make it in the private sector, then go work for the government. This is what happens when you raise a generation that got trophies just for showing up.

    • Some of us would simply prefer that our compensation was based on the value of our work. In software engineering, top software engineers are those who are most effective at solving problems, and often that means focusing on other people’s needs. Such people do not always make great negotiators.

      Might I recommend banking?

      • I am an engineer at a large software company, and I have observed a situation where several new engineers were hired at different salaries for the same position. The result happened to be that the lowest pay was given to the most competent, and he left soon for a better paying position when getting a raise proved impossible. He almost certainly would have been able to negotiate higher pay to begin with. To me, the biggest issue with salary negotiation occurs when no adjustments can be made to address initial underestimates or overestimates of a new hire’s worth. If pay is based on job performance rather than resume fluff and ability to negotiate aggressively in the hiring phase, the aforementioned engineer would have gotten a raise, and would probably be providing significantly more value to the company than his peers.

        • Navy Flyer

          Jake, well spoken sir! This whole incident CREATED by Ellen Pao REEKS of sexism, and pure sexism against men. This anti-male sexism has gone on for far too long. Too bloody right, sir!

  5. Interesting article, I would think negotiations are required for any position. The thought of you will take what we offer or move on is not what drives this economy. I wonder if the offers are the min or medium of the market? I once was approached from a company who wanted to use my skills for a project. Their rate was not what I had in mind, so I countered, the explanation given from the company is “This is what the market is paying for the skillset you provide”. With that in mind and not viewing their data I had to say no, only to find later what they offered was lower than med. It was at minimal. So they did not lead me down a false path just to keep their bottom line, but were not totally forth coming when I countered. This is why negotiations are important, it keeps companies and people honest drive up labor cost thus wages, which feeds the economy. On the down side it takes time to find the correct position in the tech field. some of our fields realty have no long term employment but mostly deal with project work and when project slow people are let go, and not to say the folks who have semi stable employment are kept around when technology changes. Bottom line this trend may or may not take hold, it does depend on labor, and if we are able to accept this type of employment and give it our best effort.

  6. The problem with this stance is they haven’t addressed the real issue teaching and helping people and women to negotiate better. It would be like taking your car to the shop and telling them the drivers window is broken and they tell you don’t use it anymore instead of repairing the problem. I’m sure a lot of companies will try to leverage this and try to increase their profits and not pay what people’s real worth is.

    • It’s the opposite. Companies that negotiate try to increase their profits and not pay people’s real worth. If there’s no negotiating they have to set a fair price or go through lots and lots of good candidates. In fact, if they publish the salary and it’s below market then they’re going to lose out right away. Not being able to adjust the figure= not being able to exploit someone who doesn’t know their market value (I’ve been in that boat). This is a good thing.

  7. BillyBobSmith

    Well, OK, it’s her company, at the moment. If that’s what she wants to do, fine. However, will the policy change when she discovers that the best and brightest are no longer accepting job offers, or worse, not even bothering to apply? Is she just going to hire H-1B holders or recent college graduates? They’ll take any offer just to get a foot in the door.

    Are offers going to be tailored to the individual or will every candidate get the same offer for a position? If for the individual, how is that really going to level the field for women? Part of putting together an offer is looking at what the candidate currently makes. Are you going to inflate the offers for women?

  8. Char Cook

    This article is really insulting! If women want higher pays they need to learn the skill of negotiating. It is a necessary skill of business and of life. Just because you can’ t do it well doesn’t mean it needs to be eliminated. Why does there need to be Double Standards for a class of People who are not minorities, actually a majority, and protect them & treat them like they are a minority? Negotiating is needed in many areas of life such as buying a car or house or negotiating terms with a client. So many things are negotiated. This idea is just plain stupid. I believe in standing up for myself whether I do it well or not. Pretty soon men won’t even be able to criticize a woman’s decision just because she is a woman and he is a man. This is just gender wars. Who wants that? Only crazy activist women Lib types. I want equal pay for equal work and skills! As usual, this article is saying negotiating is to hard to learn, HA for who? Those who want an excuse? Life Isn’t Fair! And all these stupid ideas only make things worse. Ladies… Step up to the plate and learn it , Don’t eliminate it! Negotiating IS a valuable tool. What this woman is essentially saying is women can’t live without men because they need them to Negotiate for them- Not this 59 year old woman!

  9. Sergio Ardila

    Ellen Pao is forgetting that people who can negotiate are almost unanimously better at understanding and innovating on business concepts, a crucial part of understanding across the company ideas from Marketing and Accounting, and helping drive the company in the direction of profits.

  10. Ug, I wish feminism was more of a universal term with a strict set of beliefs. This is *not* helpful to women. You can’t create equality by bringing men down, you create equality by raising women up. This would all be fine if there were an objective way to determine someone’s salary… but there isn’t. What this means is that now both men *and* women will be underpaid, and only reddit benefits. I’m all for feminism but penalizing men because society has shaped women to be non-assertive is unhelpful. Women will still be making the same salaries under this system, just men will also be payed less.

    But I didn’t expect all that much from Reddit to begin with; the one developer I’ve talked to that works there is a pompous idiot as well; decided to rate my app down to 1 star because my push notifications didn’t stack the way he wanted and then tried to lecture me via email. When he learned that the service we use to send our push notifications does not support stacking, he gave up but left his negative review. Reddit, bringing in the cream of the crop ®

  11. Char Cook

    So, you don’t publish/ post my comment because I think this article is stupid. I guess this is just a willfully biased environment! I don’t believe in a War on Women. If anything it is the opposite. I never watch Oprah because of the years of Male Bashing & I guess I won’t read any more of these articles full of Double Standards. You should be ashamed of yourselves pushing your War on Women Agenda!

  12. Carlos Bribiescas

    The ability to swap out salary for equity is still a form of negotiation. Someone who has more business intelligence will win on this as well. If someone chooses to make a better investment now they will have X more dollars in a few years. This is just easier to control. So basically they are fundamentally ok at negotiating if they have complete control over the negotiation process.

    Buying a car is not like getting a job. Not really sure why the Saturn point is even brought up.

    This is clearly a problem with fair compensation. It certainly isn’t at all motivated by the company losing time and money to good negotiators. It also certainly isn’t the fact that they have enough candidates throwing themselves at the company that they can cherry pick whoever they need.

    There are two things going on here. People who are better at negotiating get a higher salary. There is a discrepancy in salary between men and women.

    All else being equal, someone who is a good negotiator is more skillful than someone who is not a good negotiator. So Reddit is basically saying that there are skills that we will not pay you more for. This seems a bit short sided for Reddit. Sure they lost money to negotiators in the short term, but in the long term better employees is better for the company overall. Especially when those entry level people move into more managerial positions.

    They know they have an ‘unconscious’ sexist problem internally but rather than consciously trying to address it they are going to gloss over the underlying problem and instead just avoid a manifestation of it. Then, once they join, this sexist issue where we value men more than woman will have gone away and everything will be fine.

    • Reddit runs on Python and PostgreSQL, two of my favorite things. Are you telling me that because I’m not a selfish person and don’t like to negotiate that I’m less skillful at developing with Python and PostgreSQL? Your typical Reddit employee, unless they’re being hired for sales, is not being hired for their negotiation skills. The majority of them are hired for their programming and database skills.

  13. Seems to me that implying women are not good negotiators is sexist. While I look for technical ability in interviews, the ability to articulate why they should be hired and ultimately why they may worth more than others is also important. It shows they may be able to articulate technical solutions/alternatives better as well, and generally be better in front of the customer if required. I recommend the book To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink. I have hired many excellent engineers (including women) that went on to be VP’s during their career, but focusing both on soft skills and technical skills.

  14. I completely agree with Slynk.
    I also think this tactic is going to be disastrous.
    The supply of technical talent is small and the demand for technical talent is growing so raipidly, that I am not sure how a company can take this approach and stay competitive.

  15. Michael

    “No Negotiations”… So we are to simply ASSUME the their offer is Fair? Really? and only THEY get to decide? This is Corporate Capitalistic America. Pao is really ignorant of human behavior if she thinks everyone will simply kowtow to this arrogant whim.

    She is also completely ignorant of how skill sets overlap. What she had said is “All I want are sheep that take what I give them” Sheeple will NOT help her company succeed. You need innovative aggressive thinkers. and what is more aggressive than negotiations?

    Did SHE not negotiate her salary and compensation? I think her board of directors needs to hand her a new contract dictating what THEY think is fair, and see how she takes it.

    And I completely agree her “This will fix things for women” doesn’t cut it. If women are not being treated fairly at her company, what is she doing about it? To make sure they get equitable offers, raises, and promotion opportunities? Or to force the men to accept less “or else”?

    Sexist attitudes are alive and well in that CEO’s office!

    • Reddit needs Python and PostgreSQL developers. It does not need aggression, selfishness or self-interest. And yes, their offer would need to be fair because if it wasn’t they’re not going to get any applicants, are they? When I worked for a logistics company carriers needed to submit blind bids – they didn’t know what rates we were hoping for nor what anyone else submitted. They could ask for above-market rates, but they’d almost certainly lose the bidding process. This encouraged them to give one, final, fair rate and my boss never wavered, even when salesmen called him up to ask for “hints”. 🙂 He’d only respond with the classic “It’s bigger than a bread box.” 🙂

      Same here. If Reddit’s flat rates (which they’ll either publish with the job ad or will leak out later anyway) aren’t at least market rate, they’re screwed and no one will apply – not a good candidate, anyway. They’ll need to be competitive to get applicants and applicants won’t have to play games or have their past salaries held against them. This is a win for everyone.

      I wish people would stop thinking about men “getting less”. If you’re getting more than someone else who’s equally qualified, then you’re stealing and “being a good/aggressive negotiator” is just a euphemism for “I’m selfish and try to take whatever I want”.

  16. This turns sexism on its head, but in no way eliminates it. If you take away something just because men do it better, you’re now being sexist towards men which is just as illegal as sexism against women and she risks having a lawsuit filed against Reddit. And there is even more pressure to file the lawsuit against Reddit, because she was the one who wanted to put sexism in the headlines and it is hypocritical for her to turn around and do the very thing she says is wrong.

    • Geez. Taking away someone’s privilege is not discrimination. That’s like the time, apparently not knowing what he was saying, that Bill O’Reilly complained on air that Democrats were trying to destroy “white male privilege in this country”! How dare they!

      Taking more than your fair share is not something to be bragging about. In the end, if you’re getting more than the person sitting next to you who’s just as qualified, you should feel ashamed, embarrassed and selfish. The person sitting next to you is going to feel screwed, angry, and resentful. It’s not a good situation and it’s why many companies implement fixed pay scales already – so person A in department A doesn’t get upset that person B in department B has the same title and experience but is getting paid 10% more.

  17. In case she missed it negotiations are part of everyday life. We negotiate for everything.
    Would love to tell Ellen what to do with reddit. How did she get to be ceo?

  18. Though it is easy to have opinions about this policy, it is hard to determine if it is fair or will bring in top talent since we do not have the specifics about what an offer might contain. As someone who has hired hundreds of engineers I would guess that 60%-70% accept the offer as presented, 20% to 30 % would negotiate for minor things (start date, minimal sign on bonus, etc.) and less than 10% would negotiate for larger salary, more vacation days, bonuses & incentives, etc.

    I would also venture to guess that if I stood firm on all offers I would probably still get 80%-90% of the candidates on board. Part of this is selling the company, the work and the opportunities for growth.

    Not sure how things work at Reddit, but I typically made the final decision on what the offer would be (HR/Recruiting would advise). Over time I got a pretty good feel for what would be a fair offer and based on interview questions would get a better feel for what it would take to get someone on board with little, if any, negotiating.

    Not sure if this will work or not since it gives off negative vibes on the surface. But it will be interesting to see how this turns out and if it really has any impact on equity balance for minorities.

  19. Deshrek

    Well, Yahoo CEO also thought Working from home put female (sorry I meant male) employees at a disadvantage position. If Reddit gives everyone they want to hire an offer they could not reject, no negotiation is needed.

    On a side note, you could negotiate price for almost any commodity including iPhone cases in China. I got one for YMB 10 yuan (about $1.6) which is far better than those sold in here for $20+ made in China junk.

    We can only negotiate car price, house price and offer in U.S. Please don’t deprive us of fun in negotiation 🙁

  20. Once again the lowest common denominator wins. Despite all the hype about the emphasis on a “great work environment” and salary being lower on the priority scale per recent polls, we still work to earn a living consistent with our personal goals and expectations, and who honestly wouldn’t want to negotiate their salary to achieve those ends?

    America is a capitalist society, and financial negotiations are at the heart of everything we do (real estate, banking, the stock market, etc.). Is this yet another situation like our educational system where the lowest common denominator wins and we dummy everything down because someone doesn’t have the same perceived skill set as another person? I know many successful women who have no issues with looking out for themselves financially.

    In my opinion this is just another flimsy excuse by a corporate executive to lower an American living standard so we fall in line more with the wages in other countries or the H1B scam wages strongly encouraged by corporate America, especially in IT. Forgive my skepticism for not believing Ellen has my best interest at heart!

  21. I don’t think this is a good move. Although its not surprising I remember reading a few years ago about a gentleman’s agreement between a lot of the big tech companies on not poaching from each other. That made it so they could keep salaries and growth lower. This is just as bad because its doing a similar thing. Its keeping the salaries at a fixed point, this may work for brand new out of college candidates but how are they going to get that person who’s getting competing offers from multiple companies? The answer, they are not going to get them with a firm no negotiations policy. I know personally, a company with such a rigid stance is not a place I would even consider working for unless that “fair offer” was substantial.

    • They will get them if 1) Reddit is an attractive place to work, and 2) the salary is fair. If Reddit believes that, say, a Python developer with 5 years of experience in a mid-level position is worth $X, why should they offer more just because other companies are bidding for one individual? If you’re bidding for something used on EBay that costs $20 new, you’re not going to go up to $30 for it, are you? (Although I’ve seen this happen). Reddit’s doing the equivalent of setting their maximum bid.

      • That’s not how free market “pricing” of things works. It works by bidding up to a mutually agreed price. The ONLY way to know if the price is fair is by negotiation. Aborting the negotiation (which is what Pao is doing) is a market distortion. Now she’s free to do that (just like maximum bids might be – except that E-bay uses minimum bids which is completely different) but she is harming her company by leaving money on the table and keeping talent out.

        • Navy Flyer

          I beg you, JG, to review your undergraduate econ courses once more. “That’s not how free market “pricing” of things works. It works by bidding up to a mutually agreed price. The ONLY way to know if the price is fair is by negotiation.” You and I are BOTH correct! It’s exactly how FREE market pricing works, in a FREE market. But, we don’t have a FREE market now, because we now have a bunch of people competing in the market that don’t really DON’T belong here. Illegally overstayed student visas. Incorrectly obtained H-1B visas. Just plain jump the border, wetback, get off the plane or boat and vanish Illegals. If this source of improper and illegal low-ball labor were not available, the salaries would necessarily have to be adjusted up the scale. And, a free and fair salary negotiation would have to occur, instead of the dirty, underhanded, low-balling that goes on now.

  22. I find these replies interesting as well as informative. I, for one, don’t believe Ms. Pao. Whether she is honest about her motive or not, I would no more work for a gender biased CEO then I would a racially biased CEO.

  23. Tony Stege

    I think I understand the reasoning and core fairness behind it, but I worry that it will just become abused like virtually everything else in this world when humans get our hands on something.

    So instead of leveling up for men and women, it will be used by companies to level down all salaries.

  24. Negotiation is a 2-way street. One side might unilateral decide to do this but the other side always has a choice to walk away or to try to negotiation nonetheless.

    I probably wouldn’t touch Reddit with a ten-foot pole anyway, but I wouldn’t put with the stupidity of this: I have a God-given right to negotiation my salary. If Ellen Pao wants to protect “weak candidates” who can’t manage to handle the simple professional skill of negotiation, I suppose she can chose to do that but she’s selecting the weak at the expense of talent. which at some point will become a problem with shareholders and customers.

  25. Navy Flyer

    The more comments in this discussion I read, I find that most others have decided that Pao’s indictment to be one against salary negotiations in general, for both men and women. Many anecdotes shared of dirty and underhanded low-balling of salaries offered to all, and in return, inept, cowering acceptances due to being unemployed and the need for a job.

    I blame U.S. employers, as a class, most of all, for not owning up to the TRUE going rates for salaries, and instead, pushing for things like wrongful expansion of H-1B visas into areas they were not designed, when there is a more than plentiful supply of unemployed willing to go back to work. It’s just that these employers don’t want to pay the TRUE going rate.

    I also blame illegal immigrants and their dirty, underhanded apologists, for the FALSE job market they create. For, if illegals were not here, the jobs they accept would be priced high enough, at their TRUE price in a TRUE market, to coax U.S. Citizens to do the work, even if the work is not easy or pleasant.

    As it is, employers know that they can offer dirty, underhanded, low-ball salaries, because they know they can find an illegal or other non-U.S. Citizen fresh off the boat who will do the job for less than it really costs, in the FALSE labor market that the presence of illegals creates.

    • I think you’re confusing two separate issues. Undocumented workers tend to end up in low paid, low skilled work.

      In the Tech sector, it’s mostly legal, but the issue is H1Bs, and offshoring. As an independent consultant, I’ve seen the industry change in the last 20 years. Today, in my market, the recruiting is almost extensively done by Indians from Indian firms. I have literaly as a first question, been asked “How little are you willing to work for?” Not “Are you qualified?” “Are you available?” Nope.

      I have two friends that refuse to deal with Indian recruiters as most of them don’t have any relationship with the hiring managers. They report it’s always been a time waste. One of them says “When I hear an Indian voice from a recruiter, I hang up.”. Lest you get the wrong impression, my friend that says that IS an Indian immigrant.

      • I agree with you. I think it’s a cultural trait, the valuation focusing on the sheer amount of work done, not necessarily on the quality.

        I’ve experienced this from a previous employer (before / during degree) and from offshore teams in the industry. The care put on the quality of work just doesn’t seem to be there, or maybe it’s the initial development of skills. I know it may sound bad, but I try to steer away from working with people that were raised in India. Love the people. Love their food. Do not like their work.

    • Programmer Extraordinaire

      You are characterizing the job market incorrectly by calling it TRUE or FALSE. A market isn’t FALSE by adding to the pool of workers by (for example) off-shoring, having illegal immigrants (excuse me…”undocumented workers”) or using H1B labor; it is EXPANDING it. I do admit that it is expanding it unfairly, but it isn’t a FALSE market.

  26. Programmer Extraordinaire

    OK, that might be the policy at her company, but she cannot control what other companies do. Also, most IT people don’t work at IT companies; we work in IT departments at non-IT companies, so even if her policy becomes the norm at IT companies, what about the rest of us?