This International Women’s Day, put your organization’s money where your mouth is: It’s time to close the gender pay gap, and Kazoo’s got tips for you. Let’s have some Real Talk about pay leveling.
What is pay leveling?
Pay leveling (or job leveling) is the process of assigning value to each position in an organization. In short, it’s a way of taking the guesswork out of what people should be paid, and establishing a clear framework for what someone should be paid for work in a given role.
When you think about the fight for gender equality in the workplace, you might imagine something more glamorous than a spreadsheet. But to end bias and close the gender pay gap, you’ve got to get objective — and assigning the value of work, rather than defining value based on gender, race, sexuality, or any other demographic, is the first step.
Why is pay leveling important?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, American women’s earnings are about 82-93% of their male counterparts’, depending on industry. But pay leveling doesn’t only affect women.
“Women are not the sole beneficiaries of a leveling process,” noted Dania Shaheen, Kazoo’s VP of People Operations and Business Strategy. “Bias hides everywhere.”
Women are not the sole beneficiaries of a leveling process. Bias hides everywhere.
Plus, leveling doesn’t only affect the employee.
“In such a hot job market, employee retention is extremely difficult,” Dania said. “I encourage businesses to get ahead of what employees want to be successful. And today’s employees are asking for a culture of transparency.”
Actionable tips for leveling pay at your company
1. Identify a driver
Pay leveling is a difficult and time-consuming process. As the CHRO or People leader, make sure you can clear the time for someone on your team to drive the project, and that they have passion for the initiative.
2. Find pay scale information
Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Lots of companies offer pay grade information across industries, seniority levels, and more.
3. Get buy-in from leadership
Be clear about the benefits this initiative offers your organization. According to Dania, a few great ways to get your leaders on board are:
- Build empathy. “Try jogging people’s memories to earlier in their careers. Everyone remembers that raise or promotion they wanted, and couldn’t understand why they didn’t get — even senior executives.”
- Emphasize the business case. “Don’t lead with ‘It’s going to be a lot of work,’” Dania says. “Get people unified around the bigger vision — transparency, eliminating bias, and the effect on talent retention.”
- Get it on the calendar. “If you run into leaders saying, ‘I don’t have time for it,’ say, ‘Okay, but this is important. When can we talk about it?’ Then put it on the calendar and hold them to it, even if it’s next quarter.”
4. Build company-wide trust in the process
The real trust, Dania says, comes in being transparent, and in applying the system consistently. “I have to hold everyone — executives, myself, people managers — accountable to those levels. Because people talk about their salaries. So you’ve got to be fair and consistent.”
How Kazoo closed the gender pay gap
Kazoo, the employee experience platform, was born of two smaller companies in 2019. “Because the two companies were small, it was easier for them to keep a pulse on what was going on, and ensure people were being paid fairly,” Dania said.
But when the companies came together, Dania and the leadership team saw an opportunity to set a pay leveling precedent for the new Kazoo as the company continues to grow.
“In all honesty, we were already paying pretty fairly,” Dania said. But the exercise was effective. “We ended up adjusting maybe 20% of the salaries at the organization, including correcting and rescoping roles. I’m proud of the work we did, and how it shapes the employee experience at Kazoo today.”
Building greater, lasting culture
HR leaders and members of the C-suite have the power to drive lasting, systemic change in the workplace. But everyone contributes to creating a psychologically safe, equitable workplace.
This International Women’s Day — and beyond — think about the culture you build with those around you. Is it doing everything you want? Or is there an opportunity to take it to the next level? Let’s get the conversation started.