How We Achieved Pay Equality at Hired

At the heart of Hired’s marketplace is our mission to get everyone a job they love. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are key pillars for how we operate because they contribute to that mission. This begins with pay equality.

We recently published our updated internal workforce demographics data, and we’re proud to report we’ve achieved pay equality at Hired. This wasn’t easy to do; it took company wide commitment, consistency, and significant time and financial investments.  

In early 2016, we initiated a comprehensive analysis of our workforce to determine if men and women at Hired were compensated fairly for comparable work. We use the word “fair” precisely. Fair doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should be paid the same. For example, you can have a man and woman at the same level and one can be paid more because one has more experience or is a higher performer than the other. But, the way in which you come to these conclusions must be transparent, objective and consistent.

It began by developing a consistent company-wide leveling and career pathing framework that included independent market compensation data. This ensured we had a solid foundation in which to make decisions about where to make our compensation investments. We used this framework to evaluate and get surgical about where and when to correct individual compensation levels. As part of this process we discovered inconsistencies across not only gender, but also across departments, geographies and level. We believe that taking a holistic approach to all pay disparity is actually the most effective way to address specific gaps like the gender wage gap. And that is exactly what we did.

In the first half of 2016, 60 percent of our employees received a salary increase. More than half of those raises were given to women, but we also closed wage gaps unrelated to gender. With these adjustments we made significant progress towards company-wide pay equality. That year we spent over $2 million to remove unjustifiable pay gaps where they existed and to ensure that all of our employees were compensated fairly regardless of gender, race, or sexual identity.

We didn’t stop there. Accountability and commitment are critical factors necessary to getting pay equality right and keeping it right over time. We assessed our compensation practices six months later to again make any necessary adjustments. We followed this same methodology and bi-annual salary assessment process in 2017 and will do so again in 2018.

We take pride in our company’s ongoing commitment to fair pay. A lot of hard work went into solving our own wage gaps and we’d like to share what we learned and how we did it.

Step one: Establish a compensation philosophy and process

Before we could think about addressing any pay inequities, we needed to define Hired’s compensation philosophy. How did we want to pay people and why? For example, will everyone be paid equally? Will we pay based on performance? Will we pay based on years of experience? How will we level jobs to determine what is fair pay? There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions, but it’s important that you answer them explicitly, that they map to the company’s strategy, and that you are consistent in adhering to them.

At Hired, this process end-to-end took about eight months. Between countless Google Docs and emails, dozens of meetings with cross-functional leaders building career paths, hours pouring over independent market salary data, and time well-spent with outside advisors, we finally built a compensation structure that rewards performance while championing fair pay.  

Step two: Collect and look at the data

Once our compensation framework was in place, we tested it. We collected salary information for all of our employees. We discovered pay differences across various roles, departments, and regions.

This is because we didn’t have a hiring and compensation model in place early on, not unlike many fast growing start ups. We tended to pay people based on what they asked for in the hiring process and what their previous salary was, instead of their objective market value. Now, we base our compensation decisions on third-party salary data that takes skillset, years of experience, geographic location, industry and company size into account.  

After identifying where any wage gaps existed, it was necessary to determine whether or not the gaps were justified. For example, one team member may have more years of experience and a better performance track record than their peers, so their salary should be more. We found that many of our wage gaps were justified, but many were not. We calibrated this across every team in our organization.

Step three: Commit to pay equality

This is the obvious part, but also the hardest because it demonstrates the level of your commitment you have to solving this problem. If you find pay gaps that are not justifiable, you must fix it. And we did.

These changes didn’t happen in secret. Following our initial assessment in 2016, we had a transparent conversation with our entire team to explain what our new compensation framework meant for them, what we found when we examined everyone’s salaries, and what changes we were making to close the gap. This was a hard conversation because it required us to be vulnerable about our past inequalities, but the response was positive. Our team took pride knowing they work for an organization that champions wage equality and values transparency, even when things aren’t rosy.   

Step four: Don’t stop making it a priority

Wage gaps can have a sneaky way of creeping back into organizations, especially in fast-paced competitive industries like high tech. To ensure this doesn’t happen at Hired, we review salaries every six months and approve incoming offers carefully. At this time, we cross-check wages with the latest market salary data that benchmarks us against similarly-staged companies, and also compare employee salaries to determine if any unjustified wage gaps have emerged. During each six-month increment, we’ve made small salary adjustments to solve for the issues we discovered.

Today overall, women at Hired get paid more than men in three of our four core functions of engineering, marketing, talent advocacy, and sales. We continually look under the hood at the numbers to ensure that where any specific wage gaps exist, they make sense. When they don’t we invest and correct them.

Step five: Communicate your results widely

Our goal is to build trust with our employees that everyone will always be treated in a consistent unbiased manner. The more transparent we can be about how we ensure equal and fair compensation, the better. On September 8, 2016 we published our internal wage gap data on our company website to hold ourselves accountable to the public and to our employees. We recognize that publicly reporting our wage and diversity numbers is not an accomplishment, but one, small step toward creating a culture of authentic diversity, equity and inclusion.

The bottom line is pay equality is attainable. But organizations must work for it, commit to it and stick with it. By sharing our own journey, we hope that more companies will understand that they too can be part of the solution.