Paying in plain sight πŸ”

Chris Parsons
In a semi-regular peek under the hood, our co-founders Tom (CEO) and Chris (CTO) share how they're building the team and organisation behind Lollipop. Here Chris talks about our recent steps towards being transparent about salaries.

When we started the journey to build Lollipop, we knew we wanted to have a set of principles to help shape how we build the company. We're still just a dozen or so people, but we're keen to get this right from the start πŸ’ͺ

One of those key operating principles is "work in plain sight" πŸ”Ž That means wherever possible we work with transparency, we publish work in progress, and broadcast what's happening to the team.

Being transparent like this is a superpower 🦸 This allows us all to work quicker and have better context when we make decisions. It also makes everything fairer by preventing some people being "in the know" whilst others are left out.

Last October, during our offsite, the team (actually Ruth) suggested we apply this principle to salaries. Tom and I thought about it and decided to go all in.

Here's what we realised:

If we keep salaries a secret or worse try to stop the team talking about them, it'll make people worry they aren't being paid fairly for no good reason 😒

Secret salaries also give Tom and I an excuse not to do the hard work of ensuring fairness 😴 Paying people unfairly is much less work: we could just hand out rises to those who ask for them like candy, and pay whatever it takes to secure new joiners.

We realised that pretty soon we'd have a very unequal set-up where our most valuable team members were left behind. That's not the company we want to build.

At Lollipop we won't tolerate any kind of pay gap. Our team's pay should not reflect how good they are at negotiating. We only care about the job they're doing, the impact they're having and the responsibility they take on. Being open and transparent with salaries is a great antidote to pay gaps forming.

Finally, using a rules-based system we've made the team less dependent on the two of us to make hiring decisions, which allows us to grow faster and quicker πŸš€

Our first steps πŸ‘£

Here's what we put in place at the end of 2021 to start being transparent about pay:

1. We have published salary ranges for every role. Everyone knows which salary band everyone else is in. Roles are grouped into three types given the demand for different types of skills. It's harder to hire developers and data scientists, so the salary on offer reflects that πŸ“Š

2. All job adverts have public salary bands and option grants. Anyone applying for a job at Lollipop will be able to see exactly what they can expect to earn, along with the options available 🀝 We offer a sliding scale so that people can trade options with salary, with a minimum salary amount for each role to allow personal choice without reinforcing privilege. Play with our salary and options offering on our calculator here:

Our salary calculator on our Team page

3. We put together a simple progression framework. This shows everyone why they're on the salary level they're on. At a high level, we've covered what role-specific knowledge, demonstrated impact, team and communication skills someone needs to move to another salary band πŸŽ“ It's a work in progress but it's good enough for our size, and will be improved over time. We'll talk more about this framework in a future post.

4. Tom and I have told the team our exact salaries.Β Every C-level executive's exact salary will be published to the entire team, along with any changes made to it. That's just Tom and me right now, but will extend to everyone we hire at C-level in future. This keeps us accountable, and helps us ensure we're not getting sucked into low value work, but instead having real impact. I'll post more on the kind of work we think we should be doing in a future post.

It's worth saying we don't publish exact salaries other than our own. Different team members have made different options/salary tradeoffs, and will also receive increments within the range as they progress. This feels to us like their info to share, not ours. They don't have to keep it a secret though - everyone is welcome to share their own salary anywhere they like.

What do you think of this approach? Have we got it right or could we improve it? Join the conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn πŸ“£

We're hiring across the board, with published salaries and options for each role 😁 if you'd like to create cooking and shopping magic, then come join us πŸ’ͺ