Take It or Leave It

When you’ve applied for a job and receive an offer for the position you want, do you say, “Thank you so much. I look forward to working with you,” or do you start negotiating for better terms? Your answer might depend on whether you are male or female. Men tend to bargain and usually end up with a better deal than first offered, while women rarely do. Furthermore, women who do make a counter-offer tend to be perceived negatively. 

For this reason, a number of cutting edge companies such as Reddit and Magoosh are instituting a ‘what you are offered is what you get’ policy.  The only choice prospective employees have is to accept or reject the job offer; there is no opportunity for negotiation. In this way, they are hoping to make their companies more inviting to women. 

I read about this policy change almost immediately after finishing Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. While I disagree completely with her thesis that a better world,  “…would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.” she does provide some fascinating observations, research and data. She makes a compelling case that it is harder for women to reach leadership positions in the corporate world and provides guidance for changes that would help achieve that goal.   

Like all of us, Ms. Sandberg, who is Facebook’s chief operating officer, is shaped by her own personality and life experiences.  She writes of her partnership with her husband, Dave Goldberg, (sadly, since writing the book she has been widowed) and wishes a similar relationship for other women. While a committed marriage between two high-powered and well-paid corporate executives with healthy and happy children might sound ideal to many impressionable young women, I think this is about as achievable on a mass level as the dreams of young boys who watch Michael Jordan play basketball and fantasize about an NBA career. Most women might like the results in the abstract, but they aren’t as naturally gifted or as keen on the hard work and trade-offs that achieving those results demand.  Meanwhile, even fewer men than women fit into that picture. 

As for women running half the world’s countries, I would gladly exchange Nancy Pelosi for a male who shared my vision of America. Voting for Hillary because she is a woman sounds bigoted and backwards, let alone foolish, to my ear. Too many liberals look only at color and body parts. Any conservative pundit who promotes Carly Fiorina  because of her gender loses my respect as much as would anyone who opposes her for the same reason. 

I think Sheryl Sandberg’s attempt at social engineering is quixotic. That in itself is fine, but the minute the government (including the United Nations) gets in the picture to help achieve her goal, it turns into something dangerous. When the government institutes tax incentives, or mandates quotas, day care and maternity/paternity policies, an idea becomes a fearsome cudgel. I’m intrigued by Reddit and Magoosh’s new hiring policy and curious to see how it plays out. I love the idea of individual companies innovating and experimenting. If a policy works, it helps the company thrive; if a policy doesn’t work, the results are evident and something different is tried. Unfortunately, with government, failed policies get expanded, entrenched and enhanced, piling one bad idea upon another. I personally don’t like to bargain, but I like even less being forced into someone else’s picture for an ideal world. 

10 thoughts on “Take It or Leave It”

  1. I appreciate your distinction between business models and government mandates. I wish more people could see the difference.

  2. Peter, the leftist Islamic Fan Club and Admiration Society pontificates upon its basic assumption that all major religions are equally valid and beneficent. All religions are relative to them, offering different points of view and no religion should take precedence over another. Without observing daily operations in the Islamic world, wherein women are sixth-class citizens and little more than chattels, and where the social contract holds together in a grim atmosphere of fear, it is easy for them to find the grass greener on the other side. But also we must never forget that the true leftist god is Government, and they would in the end dethrone all religions in favor of Mega-government.

  3. Well, the Great He-cession in effect has made Ms. Sandberg’s quixotic vision a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is because many males got the ax in corporate America while their wives kept their employment. Women are perceived as far more employable because they receive a lower wage and are less frequently heads of the family (?). Add to that the social force of age discrimination (hypocritically forbidden yet rampant), and many males at a transitional age could no longer re-enter the work force. So now Rosie the Riveter brings home the bacon while Sam minds the hearth. Has this made America better? I don’t know, but I think America has become far less prosperous as a result. Most of what we buy and sell is now made in China anyway. This ugly fact is an insult to my national pride, and is also a chilling bit of handwriting on the wall.

  4. Human rights in general and women’s rights in particular have been liberated more in Western societies than at any time in the history of mankind. This started, of course, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the patriarchs of Judaism and continues to this day with the household of faith collectively known as Judeo-Christian culture (the edification of which your husband and you contribute more than you know).
    How many Americans know that the largest voting bloc in the U.N. is the fifty-seven nation OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and that the Qur’an and the Hadith define a Muslim woman as being worth exactly one-half the value of a Muslim man?
    How ironic it is, therefore, that Islam’s leftist fan club in the West has proven time and time again that it will go to extraordinary lengths to protect Islam from criticism.

  5. Actually, Karen, that is why we do what we do. We like to make Jews more Jewish and other people more Christian in the mold of the founders of America.

  6. Men and women are different… God makes that clear (to those who want to “listen”)
    Until we (as fallible humans) resign ourselves to those facts – we will be “fighting at cross purposes” and “Quixotic” failings.
    When did it become “vogue” to think otherwise?
    If only I hadn’t been seduced by the “siren call” of secularism and understood the “rules” of God, I wouldn’t be a divorced 55 yr old woman today.
    Thank you Susan and Rabbi Lapin for what you do…
    I know you don’t do “it” to make better Christians, yet understanding my Jewish “roots” makes me a better Christian and that is a glorious (to God be all Glory) thing

  7. Jean, You are making a great point that Sheryl Sandberg makes in her book as well. If I’m remembering correctly she says that if men have 60% of the qualifications needed for a position they apply for it whereas women who have way more of the qualifications do not.

  8. I agree that women tend to be reluctant to negotiate for better hiring terms, but that’s not the only cause of the “gender gap.” Women, by and large, also tend to start their job hunt with lower expectations. I’ve written resumes for well educated women who ask for clerical positions (one of my clients has a Master’s in school counseling and is licensed, but said she would be happy to get a receptionist’s job. Another had a degree in Civil Engineering and was doing an entry-level accounting job). It is like pulling teeth to get many of my female clients to cite accomplishments, and when they do, they normally minimize them in some way. Men, on the other hand, are very happy to tell you all of the good things they’ve done and willing to put a dollar amount on each of them. So, a company’s initial introduction to a highly qualified female candidate may not be as impactful as its intro to a similarly qualified male candidate, and that’s where the salary package baseline begins.

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