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The CHRO’s Checklist: Preparing for Pay Transparency in CA

By OpenComp


With pay transparency comes a new level of employee and employer communication that can prove challenging to navigate. Luckily, there are ways to embrace these new policies and come through stronger as an organization.

Gianna Driver, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at Exabeam, joins us to walk through her preparations for transitioning to pay transparency as a resident of California, where pay transparency laws go into effect on January 1, 2023.

Join us as we discuss:

  • The need for educational content around pay transparency
  • The functions of a Compensation Committee
  • Preparations for transitioning to pay transparency



CAITLIN ALLEN: Hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of High Growth Matters, an OpenComp podcast. My name is Caitlin Allen, the VP of Marketing at OpenComp and today we are going to talk about how to prepare for pay transparency in California. So whether it's required by law or simply demanded by workers, we all know pay transparency is no longer an option for US employers. And that's especially the case for those with employees in California, where pay legislation goes into effect on January 1 of 2023. So today's guest Gianna Driver lives and works in California. And she is going to share with us today about how her team is preparing Exabeam where she's currently serving as CHRO for this legislation. Gianna, thank you so much for being here. 

GIANNA DRIVER: Thanks, Caitlin. I'm excited to be here.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Really excited to have you. So let's let's start off with the basics. Tell us a little bit about yourself and about Exabeam

GIANNA DRIVER: Sure, yeah, so Gianna driver I am our CHRO here at Exabeam. Exabeam is a global cybersecurity company, we have approximately 700 employees in not just the US but scattered across across the globe. And as CHRO I get to oversee fun things like HR, and recruiting and compensation, total rewards and learning. So super, super jazzed about our fabulous team here.

CAITLIN ALLEN: That's awesome. Thank you for sharing that. And we always like to start these podcasts getting to know the guests a bit personally. So this is a consistent question. We ask everybody what is something your coworkers don't necessarily know about you?

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, well, so I live and work here in the San Francisco Bay Area where I've lived for about 20 years. And I think a lot of people don't know that I'm actually from a teeny tiny little small town in East Texas. So I split my split my time going out between my mom and dad. And when I was with my dad, we had a small beef cattle farm in East Texas. So I grew up roaming around cattle and riding a motorcycle and all of that stuff, which I have to say not many people in the Bay Area. Do? 

CAITLIN ALLEN: No, not not very many. That is such a fun fact. Thank you for sharing. So in our prep call Gianna, you made the comment that you love that we're moving towards patriots paramountcy as a nation and a world. What does transparency mean for you? And why exactly? Are you excited about it?

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, well, so the the principles behind pay transparency, I respect and and I think they are noble causes. Meaning, you know, the purpose behind pay transparency rules and legislation are to ensure accountability and pay parity pay equity. And in a world where unfortunately, there is still pay disparity between similarly qualified folks. I think that transparency and rules like this are are wonderful ways to help organizations and leaders be accountable. That said, I didn't say that it's an easy task. And I would say that for organizations who, who are serious about this, with transparency comes the need for education. And so, you know, transparency without context setting, and the appropriate education methods is, you know, not going to be super effective. So I am excited about it. But I'm also excited about education and knowledge sharing so that people truly have the context behind pay legislation.

CAITLIN ALLEN: And that's truly the difference between concepts that we all can rally around and actually actioning it. So it's a great, very well said. And I'm curious, so if you've got pieces in place already at Exabeam preparing for patrons parents see and things already in effect that are there to ensure it for the organization that has to start in some way. At the top, whether that's extra beams board or investors, what would you say the interest level? Is there and education level is there around this topic? Hmm.

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, well, thankfully, we have a pretty experienced group of folks on our on our board and our board of directors, and specifically, we have folks that have served on compensation committees before people who are knowledgeable about some of the pay legislation and efforts to ensure equitable compensation. And so they're they're very interested and they're also holding us accountable for making sure that they were compliant but also that we're educating our workforce appropriately.

CAITLIN ALLEN: That That's really, really helpful when you have except by and I've seen a number of studies recently, both actually a survey that open comp ran last year. And then I don't remember who put it out within the last week but torch actually showing how much of a gap there is between the priority level that many C level executives put on pay transparency and dei and their ability to actually take action on it. So that's, that's wonderful to hear.

GIANNA DRIVER: Totally. One of the things I was I was actually going to add to that Caitlin is Adam, when you when you mentioned the board, what I have found is when the board is focused on something and passionate about something, it really helps the leaders and organizations take that that topic or that item seriously. And we're fortunate and Exabeam, that our board is also in addition to pay equity and compensation equity, they, they're equally passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. And just as organizations and boards will ask the management team to produce roadmaps and statistics and plans for sales and for the product engineering roadmaps and stuff like that, we also share with our board information about how we're doing around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. So it's really, it's really awesome to have that that buy in and support.

CAITLIN ALLEN: I love that. And I think, least from my perspective, the way the human mind and human actions tend to be motivated, there's a bit of a carrot, there's a bit of a stick and says, sad or true, we respond to sticks a lot more. So I'm excited to see that. That board and investor sponsorship totally brought in here in the next couple of months and years. Totally. Yeah. What would you say? Gianna? What are some of the challenges that are inherent to preparing for pay transparency, despite the fact that you're excited about about them and your team is preparing? There's a lot of things I'm sure that you need to put in place. What's What's that look like these days?

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, well, so as we, as we were mentioning a second ago, with transparency comes the need for education. And so my team and I are focused a lot on preparing content and materials for employee education. So I'll give you an example. To help make this a little more more concrete. With pay transparency in our job descriptions, beginning next year, we're going to be required to produce ranges for roles. And let's say that, you know, what arrange for a role is I'm making these numbers up. But let's say it's 50 to $70,000. Well, a lot of employees who are current employees, let's say that someone is earning $55,000, with they see a role posted for their role, they're going to see that range of 50 to $70,000, they're likely going to go to their manager and say, manager Hold on a second, why am I not earning $70,000? You know, it's often the case, when people see a range, they focus in on one part of that range. And so it's super important that we're preparing our leaders and managers with content information and materials, so they can thoughtfully and authentically engage in those conversations. Right, because like with with ranges, you know, not everyone is exactly in the same situation, even though, you know, there's a range of 50 to 75, or 50, or 70,000. In this example, someone could live in the Bay Area versus in the Central Valley of California, there's a cost of labor and cost of living differences. So there's a lot of different factors that have to be considered when we're looking at pay ranges and pay transparency. So we're focused on building out that content in material for managers and leaders,

CAITLIN ALLEN: that training is so important, because that is the first place employees will go is to their their direct manager to ask those questions. And we've noticed that also, it's very big natural for us as humans to focus on the top of the range in aspiration. But it just by by pure numbers alone, like the top of a range or 100th percentile of a range means that not many people are at that point, we've actually seen companies start to post midpoints for their ranges and their job posts as a way of meeting requirements, but also maybe helping people anchor to a more realistic number. So very understandable that that's something that needs to be anticipated and and accounted for.

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

CAITLIN ALLEN: What you'd mentioned as well, you've created something called a compensation committee. And next to the name. What is involved in that committee? What's its charter? Who is involved?

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, yeah, great question. So what you typically find is organizations that are newly formed and pre IPO often in those cases, so we're talking, you know, seed rounds, series A Series B, perhaps even Series C. Oftentimes, their board of directors is just the board. And then what happens is as an organization grows and evolves and there are More More execs and more and more layers and levels and hierarchies, organizations get even more sophisticated about their compensation structure. And so what often happens is a subset of the board starts to sit on a committee called the compensation committee, there are other committees as well, that a board will will typically start to have a little bit further in its evolution, things like an audit committee, audit committee, or a non gov committee. And so specific to a Comp Committee or compensation committee, but Comp Committee for short, these are subsets of the board who are tasked with overseeing the compensation and total rewards practices of the organization. And it's an accountability arm. And when we say compensation in this regard, it's usually base pay any sort of incentive or variable pay, as well as equity, which, you know, for many folks in organizations, especially leaders is a, you know, a significant part of overall compensation.

CAITLIN ALLEN: It is wonderful again, love the the top down championship with that particular value and initiative at the company. Yeah, how so you've been a, in a pause, we're gonna cut that part out. So you've served in sea level positions Gianna at both public and private organizations. And I imagine you're calling on that experience as you lead your team and getting ready for Patriots parents see what are the guiding principles and the best practices that you're keeping top of mind?

GIANNA DRIVER: Well, first and foremost, I'd say as just guiding principles in general, in this type of space, when we're talking about very sensitive and emotional topics for people being communicative proactive and working with honesty and high integrity, our baseline must haves, right? So then everything we do is is you know, on top of that, that foundation, as, as we look to institute, some of the programs that we're talking about whether those are education programs, or pay transparency programs, we need to anchor them in something. So something that were an initiative that we're embarking upon right now at Exabeam is a global leveling project. And so what what that means, and I'm sure that many of your audience and listeners are probably nodding in acknowledging nods, but also probably memories of pain, because it can be a very laborious process. But simply put the, you know, a leveling exercise is the process where we go through the organization, and we look at all roles and all people in those roles, and we level them. And that's what really starts to then anchor compensation. Because you need to have some sort of framework and objective way of saying this is where someone is in our in our overall job architecture and hierarchy. And then what happens is, we look at benchmarking, right. And so we like many tech companies use Radford, but there are many other tools out there that you can use for benchmarking. And then where we go from there is layering on some of the pay transparency, we talked to an educate employees about, we have ranges for all of our roles. And when someone is newly promoted into a role, they are likely not paid at the midpoint or the 75th percentile of that range. Typically, when you're new to a role, you know, you start lower in that overall range. So there's there's a lot of work and initiatives that we're that we're embarking upon here, they're really foundation setting that well, you know, ensure that we're successful as we scale and roll out a lot of these new programs.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Condition setting really says it, I think that that makes a lot of sense. And I imagine to that that job leveling project will bear a lot of fruit for things like career pathway development and retention and culture development and employee satisfaction. So that that comes back to you and in spades.

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, absolutely.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Well, you mentioned earlier, Gianna, that you're addressing already the employee concerns that can naturally crop up when someone might notice the top of a range and compare it to their their existing salary. What are other employee concerns and questions that you're expecting or maybe even already receiving during that transition?

GIANNA DRIVER: So we've already started to get a trickle of questions from from our employees around, how are we taking into consideration geo complexity. So especially during the last couple of years, in a in a pandemic remote world, many employees have moved from higher cost geography to a lower cost geography so we're getting questions around Okay, well with the pay transparency, how does that, you know, how does geo play into, you know, into overall compensation. We're also receiving questions around the base bonus mix. So in other words, you know, like you've got base pay, but then how are we thinking about the mix between base and bonus? Our answer to that is we do go back to leveling, it's super important to have leveling because then you can say, okay, per level, here is what that mix looks like, it's, uh, you know, I'm making this up, but it's a 5%. At these levels, it's a 7% bonus at this level 15% At this level, or, you know, whatever those those those are. So we're starting to get a lot of questions like this. And this is where I also go back to education, educating our leaders about this, but also educating overall employees, right, it shouldn't just be the leaders who have this information, let's share knowledge openly and freely amongst everybody.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Love the consistent theme of education and also love the consistent theme of building a foundation with something like a job leveling framework, because it really provides a structure for those conversations. And I imagine that some of those employee questions are coming to you or your team directly, and that some of them are going to their their actual direct manager. And so maybe we can circle back on the topic you mentioned earlier of how you're training people managers to address questions. You know, how a question is answered, can create trust, it can create transparency, or it can have the opposite effect. And so could you maybe give us a look under the hood to understand what that prep looks like? Is there a roleplay? Is it a one to many workshop? Like, what are the things you're doing to make sure that the material is being absorbed, and that people managers can action it in a way that reflects who Exabeam is from a values perspective?

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, great question. So what we're literally creating and recording right now are hour long sessions, that beginning in January, we will we'll invite all people managers to and because we are geo complex with with time zones and stuff, we'll have you know, a series of workshops, same content, but there'll be drop in sessions. And you know, each manager and leader is expected to attend a session. And in it, there's, there's a variety of ways that we're communicating first, the first call it 10 minutes or so is foundation setting. So it's here's the world as we have it today, here's where you go for information. This is what those ranges look like, this is what those ranges mean. And then there is a little bit of a roleplay that we go into, have a direct report and manager. And we've also got some some really fun engaging and funny YouTube clips that we've we've put in there. And then we also open it up for for questions. And so I'd say I think right now we have about 15 minutes that are dedicated to questions. In addition to this, though, we're also training all of our HR business partners in how to answer questions that their leaders are going to be, you know, asking them about the leaders they support. So there is this train the trainer model as well. And we do have a compensation and total rewards team. So obviously, they're the they're the experts for any sort of true curveball difficult questions, because some individuals start to really get in the in the details of, Okay, talk to me about our your RSU strategy and how that plays into levels and, you know, pay transparency and stuff. Because when we talk about pay transparency, that's more of a cash, you know, a cash driven disclosure, it doesn't take into account, you know, equity compensation, it doesn't take into account other benefits. And, you know, that we offer our employees, so we want to make sure that all of our team has that information.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Wonderful. So the one part of the legislation in California is around requiring ranges or salary bands be posted in job listings, the other pieces pay data reporting, and the requirement around that, how is your team preparing to report on your pay data status?

GIANNA DRIVER: There's a lot of back end work that goes into making sure we have high confidence in in our data. And that's where I do go back to some of the levels and you know, the the back end information that powers that, but we are we've we've been doing a lot of this already. So now it's making sure that we've got the right formats and you know, whatnot for all of the various agencies and folks who require it, but we're, we're we're ready. This will be the first time that we are required to do some of these things. But that doesn't mean that you know, we haven't been doing this. We've been doing a lot of this backend work for some time.

CAITLIN ALLEN: One of the things that's so exciting to me about that particular requirement, Jenna is I think there's a misconception around what pay gaps actually include like there's a lot of media attention, for instance, around the pay gap between men and women and sometimes even the pay gap between men and women by by different underrepresented groups. However, one of the things that I've learned a lot about recently is how it really can exist in pockets within departments or by level of an organization. And so I'm excited for the light that will be shown in that, that realm, to your point of education, I really think that there's a lot that of education that will happen in the world. And those lenses,

GIANNA DRIVER: I 100%. Agree, there's that quote, that's what is it? Sunlight is a great disinfectant. And I think that's, I think that's really powerful and applicable to pay transparency, because, you know, when we shine a light on all of this, well, then yeah, like it is, it is hard then to hide in the dark corners, because we are, there's implicit accountability in it.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Love that phrase. So maybe we can shine that sunlight a little bit into the future and close out by talking about what the future of pay transparency looks like, from your perspective.

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, well, so I think there are gonna be a couple things that happen. I do think that organizations and leaders are going to understand even more the critical role that total rewards plays in organizations, because the total rewards and compensation teams are the teams that are really doing the heavy lift on a lot of, you know, a lot of the work that we're talking about, I think we're going to see, more and more organizations start to really look at their data, their employee data through the lens of the EIB. So in other words, you know, running reports, irrespective of gender, and race, and age, and all of that, just to truly ask and see, okay, let's just look purely at compensation, and are we compensating similarly qualified employees in, you know, equitable ways. So I think these are all of the things that I forecast are going to, you know, come about because of the pay legislation. Love that.

CAITLIN ALLEN: I think that the, to your point, total rewards and competition professionals are often some of the unsung heroes of the organization. And data is with where there's insight is always a wonderful thing. So to bring data to the EIB and facilitate that belonging is a prediction I can get my head around, I guess, is what I'm trying to say.

GIANNA DRIVER: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think it's a good thing.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Well, thank you so much for the time today. I think one last question. To close this out. You've shared a lot of really insightful and pieces of advice and education for us around how to prepare for pay transparency. If our audience needed to take action on one of the things that you've said today, and maybe one of the things you haven't, what would it be?

GIANNA DRIVER: I would say we're all like we, as professionals in the compensation, HR space, we're all in this together, let's learn from each other. Let's share the education modules that we're, you know, sharing with our teams, let's lift each other up and know that sometimes the path to progress is not linear. So we don't know what we don't know. And as we go about being more transparent with pay, and ranges and all of that stuff, there are going to be things that we can learn from each other for how to do this better. You know, I don't have all the answers, but I have some answers. And I've learned a lot in my previous experiences. And I think we're going to be learning a lot in this. The same is true of many other compensation and HR professionals. So this is a time to really turn toward each other and to really help each other as we navigate these pay transparency waters.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Love the humility of that and also really like the acknowledgement that we are a community that we need our community. So thank you for ending us on that note and for being here. Audience Thank you as well for being here. Don't forget to give us a five star rating. And if you have any ideas for topic, or guests, you can email Bye, everyone.

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