Ellen Pao: Reddit doesn't negotiate salaries because that helps keep the playing field even for women

Ellen Pao has been making a lot of changes at Reddit since taking over as interim CEO in November 2014.

One internal change has been continuing the work of former CEO Yishan Wong to revamp how the social network negotiates its salaries for employees.

We provide offers at the high end and they are non-negotiable,” Pao said at the PreMoney Conference in San Francisco on Friday.

Part of it is offering employees a fair salary at market rate, but when 500 Startups founder Dave McClure asked if there’s some gender-discrimination motivation behind it, Pao said yes.

“There’s some gender to it,” Pao said. “People won’t get penalised for asking.”

Women are significantly less likely to negotiate for higher salaries than men, research shows, and if they do, people react more negatively than they would to a man. Pao said the idea is to get everyone who comes in a fair salary.

“I haven’t heard any complaints. We’re tracking it to see if candidates really want to negotiate,” Pao said.

Some on the outside though have criticised Pao’s decision. A recruiting consultant for Microsoft, Amy Ala, wrote on her blog that Pao should have helped women with salary negotiations, rather than stripping them of the opportunity.

Pao’s decision to eliminate the salary negotiation came on the heels of losing her own high-profile sex-discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

She has since filed a notice to appeal the decision and is currently embroiled in negotiations with the venture firm over the costs in the case. She refused to comment on both aspects during her appearance at the PreMoney conference.

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