If pay transparency means something different to everyone, and pay equity and equal pay aren’t the same thing, how can people and business leaders architect systems that promote consistency, fairness, and scalability? And what can SMB and mid-market businesses learn from their global peers?
In our first live podcast episode of High Growth Matters (hosted at OPEN Summit), we spoke with Antoine Andrews, Chief Social Impact & Diversity Officer at Momentive, formerly SurveyMonkey, who’s also an Advisor on OPEN Imperative’s Board and the Forbes Human Resources Council. In his career, Antoine has also led diversity & inclusion at global organizations like Gap, Nike, Symantec, Year Up and others.
This blog has been adapted from that conversation and covers:
- The evolution of pay transparency over time
- Where pay gaps occur most often
- What intersectionality is, and why it matters
The evolution of pay transparency
When Antoine first joined the workforce, there were three things he was told never to speak about in a work setting: religion, politics and compensation.
While there is often tension surrounding these topics, times have changed dramatically — especially when it comes to compensation. Still, as Antoine points out, these conversations extend far beyond the simple metrics of what someone walks home with at the end of the day.
“We're actually talking about our philosophy,” Antoine says. “When a company understands their philosophy, they can share their processes and how they think about the market — how they think about the impact they make on historically marginalized communities.”
While it was once taboo to mention pay, companies are now thinking beyond salary bands and pay levels to get to the root of who is paid what and why. Moreover, they are considering how that affects people — particularly in relation to historical marginalization.
Opening up this conversation about pay transparency has enabled leaders to explore and enact better diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.
“When employees understand company philosophy, they can monitor equity,” Antoine says. “That’s where opportunities change — sharing compensation data is critical.
Where pay gaps occur most often
Compensation policies aren’t designed to perpetuate pay gaps, but they do. The systemic effects from historical policies that were intended to create and maintain pay gaps have lasting effects on today’s practices due to a lack of both compensation education and practice.
In fact, according to Antoine, the policies themselves are no longer the main concern.
“The administration of policies — typically, the managers having a conversation with you about what you want and where you’d like your salary to be — that's where gaps are created,” he says. Pay transparency training is needed.
So, educating leaders and managers about pay equity and compensation is absolutely essential for minimizing these gaps. Once educated, employees can be on equal footing and are equipped with the necessary compensation tools to monitor their systems and processes and identify inequities as they are revealed.
“When you look at pay equity and the results of your pay equity story, it's really you judging your system,” Antoine says. “It's the combination of policy and practice.”
What is intersectionality, and why does it matter?
Intersectionality is a term that was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, who also founded the African American Policy Forum. Antoine credits Crenshaw with bringing the concept top-of-mind for many professionals worldwide.
“When you think about intersectionality, you think about how different components and demographics interact,” Antoine says. “You look through the lenses of women, women of color, women in certain organizations, and how they’re showing up.”
Intersectionality reveals the nuances of a multi-faceted experience. Once the nuances are revealed and understood, you’re afforded an opportunity to drive meaningful change.
Moreover, if you approach change by focusing on the experiences of the most marginalized groups, you can establish practices and policies that use the curb-out effect.
Antoine offers a useful example of sidewalks and wheelchairs. If a community builds a sidewalk to increase accessibility for those in wheelchairs, everyone benefits. Serving those who have experienced the greatest marginalization will ultimately serve the population, including the myriad intersections of experience.
“Looking at intersectionality through that lens allows us to ensure that all individuals within a community or demographic are impacted,” Antoine says. “Intersectionality is critical when you look at it through the equity lens.”