Who would want to work at a company that doesn't let you negotiate your salary? A lot of people would, or at least should, according to Ellen Pao, Reddit's interim CEO.

In April, the social news-sharing site unveiled a controversial new HR policy: Job offers to new hires come with a take-it-or-leave-it salary number. The figure is based on research about how workers at comparable positions at other companies are paid; it doesn't take into account the candidate's salary history or other personal factors. 

"When somebody comes in we figure out what role they're applying for, what band they're in and we give the what we think is a fair salary in that band," Pao explained during an onstage interview at the Code Conference Wednesday. 

The purpose of the policy is to eliminate gender inequality in pay, Pao said, citing research that shows bargaining makes for an uneven playing field. "It's known that women are one-quarter as likely as men to negotiate for more pay in salary and when they do they're often penalized for it," she said.

But the policy is proving to have an unexpected benefit, alleviating the antagonistic dynamic that pits new employees against their future employers. "It takes a lot of tension out of the process," Pao said. "We've had people apply to Reddit just because of that policy." 

Getting rid of negotations is an extension of Pao's ongoing campaign against gender bias in Silicon Valley. A former junior partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, Pao lost a high-profile gender discrimination suit against the venture capital firm in March. 

She said she is still consulting with her legal team about whether to appeal the ruling. "It didn't come out the way I wanted it to, but I ended up becoming a symbol for different things," she said. "I connected to so many people." 

Published on: May 27, 2015