Compensation policy - "fairness" discussion, thoughts and ideas

Hey there
Finance Circle has been discussing our compensation policy and wondering how people feel about the policy.

What the policy says:

  • Circles that approve or fill a role set the pay rate.
  • The policy includes a whole list of considerations to make sure pay is equitable and needs-based, takes into account as much of the whole situation as possible (like living costs in the country etc).

What the policy is trying to accomplish

  • Give autonomy to circles
  • Give basic guidance to circles to create a more open and transparent conversation around pay

What we’ve seen in practice

  • There is a tendency to see $15 as the “base” rate. The policy itself doesn’t say that. Should it? And what does that mean? That it’s the most common one? Or the minimum rate?
  • The policy has not been requesting to write a rationale (stated reasons) for a rate higher than $15. In the role template that Staffing Circle has been using (which you can find if you start a google doc from a template, or here), it now prompts to add a rationale. The idea here is to make sure a basic record is kept of the discussion so others who weren’t present can have some insight why the choices were made.

What are you thinking about it?

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Guidance here about what rationale is considered would be helpful. Is rationale need, skill levels, lived experience? If by need does that include geography, life circumstances (such as higher medical expenses), surrounding access to resources (ability to work a higher paying job, having partners that contribute to household income), debt, etc?

Yes, the considerations from the policy can feed into the decision as a rationale.

I notice that for many people who may not be coming from an entrepreneurial background (ie. self employed) OR who have less experience in self organized settings (like sociocratic organizations) - which incidentally is most people, even sofa members - the current policy doesn’t offer much in the way of ‘scaffolding’ (to borrow the pedagogical concept) to discuss pay.

When adding in the nuances of the nonprofit sector and SoFA’s navigating budgets, there is ample complexity.

I think this policy is probably a fit for where SoFA is right now in this moment, but that as SoFA’s body of staff grows, these topics will probably need more scaffolding OR more familiarity with the conversation among SoFA staff in the way of orientation and discussion.

The conversation is currently also difficult with new hires who have specific skills SoFA needs. SoFA does not traditionally pay competative market rates for comparative work (which is common for many nonprofits), so engaging that conversation with new hires who have valuable skills but will also need training and onboarding is somewhat difficult.

The conversation is so complex, it seems SoFA really needs to approach it with capacity for the conversation and it’s complexities more than with policies and systems. However, building that capacity is a tricky thing.

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