Beware tech companies who tell you they don’t negotiate

Reddit and Duck Duck Go recently announced that they are eliminating salary negotiations, in part to help even the playing field for men and women, since men are more likely to negotiate salaries than women.

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," Pao said in the interview. "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."

I am a little skeptical. It's fine for a company to announce this, but they lose nothing from announcing "we don't negotiate offers". The person you really need to ask is the person who has 5 offers from different tech companies. If they go to Reddit or Duck Duck Go and say, "I'll come work for you for another $5k / $10k with the same equity", are they turned down 100% of the time? If yes, then I'll believe a company with a stated policy that says "we don't reward negotiators".

Announcing "We give fair offers" is a smart move on behalf of a negotiator; it lends better credibility to whatever offer is on the table. It's just not in their best interest to disclose that they negotiate.

In my last round of job interviews, one company made me an offer, told me in strong words that "this offer is non negotiable", then ended up offering me both more salary and more equity.

I would also like to remind everyone that, within the last decade, six of the largest tech companies in the USA conspired to depress wages for engineering employees. I will repeat that last sentence. SIX OF THE LARGEST TECH COMPANIES IN THE USA ACTIVELY COLLUDED TO KEEP ENGINEERING SALARIES DOWN FOR FIVE YEARS. Steve Jobs, a person who many tech CEO's admire and try to emulate, threatened Sergey Brin because Google was trying to recruit Safari engineers.

Yes, Reddit and Duck Duck Go are not those companies, but if half of the National League teams are found colluding, I'm going to have a little skepticism when the Rangers tell me "this is the best offer you're going to get". I almost forgot, that example doesn't even work, because all of the MLB owners recently colluded to depress salaries as well. Given the history, as a tech employee you are wise to take anything tech employers say with a grain of salt.

I applaud Reddit and DDG for taking policy steps to address the gaps between pay for men and women. They may find that starting with a high offer helps them close candidates - great! But I am skeptical that "we don't negotiate" is true, or at least, we're not hearing it from the right party in the negotiation.

Liked what you read? I am available for hire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are heavily moderated.