#EqualPayDay and the Case for Pay Transparency with Angie Duong Head of People, 10KC

Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
April 12, 2022

“Equal Pay Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the gender pay gap,” according to the Equal Pay Coalition. April 12th is when companies and organizations come together to acknowledge the pay gap and make strides toward equality in the workplace. According to the Government of Canada, women make just 88 cents on the dollar compared to men. In the United States according to the Pew Research Center, women earn 84 cents on the male’s dollar.  At Ten Thousand Coffees (10KC), the company fundamentally believes in providing transparency when it comes to all of its people programs, including compensation and equal pay. In this Q&A, Angie Duong, Head of People at 10KC, discusses the role HR plays in shrinking the gender pay gap, how she’s revamping the company’s compensation and benefits programs, the positive effects of the #ShowUsYourLeave campaign on companies’ behavior, why women should negotiate, and how organizations can be better allies for their female employees.

10KC
: Tell us about yourself and the journey that led you to being Head of People at 10KC.

Duong: I've been a human resources practitioner for over a decade. I've had the privilege of working in a variety of different industries, from oil and gas to government to technology, and all of these varied experiences have been incredibly formative towards my philosophy around people practices. When I transitioned into the tech industry, that's when the bug hit me. Specifically, the start-up bug. I realized I had a strong passion for building things from the ground up. These types of environments allow me to be innovative and (constructively) disruptive! 

What attracted me to 10KC was their purpose and mission really spoke to me, and that rings true of most of the people that join our company. I value working for a company that has social impact and social purpose as part of its mission statement. I’m thrilled to be in a position where I can help 10KC scale and grow.


10KC
: In your role, you’ve been revamping 10KC’s current employee compensation and benefits programs. Can you elaborate on what you’re doing and how this will benefit the 10KC team? 

Duong: We're bringing in a lot of structure, visibility, and transparency to our compensation program and building a foundation for scale. We’ve implemented regular compensation cycles to create consistency around our compensation events (e.g., base salary adjustments, bonuses, etc.). We are also working on creating job levels and pay bands for all of our roles. Our pay bands are informed by multiple sources of market data, which we will share with our team members so that they know where it came from.

Once this foundation is built, we will be completing a pay equity review to determine if any inequities exist across our different people groups. If they do, then we are going to talk about it as a company, which is an important part of our diversity, equity, and inclusion philosophy, and we will work to correct any discrepancies  we uncover. Our utmost priority is our people and building a culture where our people will thrive and feel like they are treated fairly. Our processes and programs need to align to that.

10KC: Equal Pay Day was created to shed light on the gender biases that still exist in workplaces. Why are these initiatives so important?

Duong: Nowadays, more companies are sharing their pay ranges as part of their job postings. Just five years ago, that would have been largely unheard of. Sharing pay ranges in job postings is a huge step towards equal pay. Equity seeking communities, including women, now have a frame of reference for what they should be paid. It reduces some of the discrimination as part of the recruitment process and helps people from undervaluing their worth when negotiating their salaries. 

The same lens of transparency can be applied to parental benefits programs. Information about parental benefits programs haven’t been shared broadly in the past - up until recently, anyways. The recent #ShowUsYourLeave campaign increased awareness and transparency around parental benefits programs. When companies openly share this level of detail about their people programs, especially those that promote gender equity, it becomes easier for employees and candidates to align with a company and its culture. It helps people find companies that share the same values and principles as they do.

Transparency initiatives like Equal Pay Day and #ShowUsYourLeave holds companies accountable for advancing the world of work.  If companies all see others are doing it, they will (generally) follow suit. No one wants to be left behind in the fight for talent – especially in today’s talent market. There’s still a bit of an antiquated approach to not sharing your “secret sauce” – some companies have some innovative practices surrounding equity, but are not sharing their practices and programs publicly. I am a firm believer you should want to be sharing your program details — as this is for the betterment of all equity seeking groups. 

10KC: Why do you think women are still fighting to be paid equally as their male counterparts? What can organizations do to be better allies and supporters for their women-identifying employees to lessen this disparity?

Duong: Parental benefits play a large part in pay equity. I strongly believe that every company needs to have a parental benefits program that is designed with equity in mind. When you have one specific demographic of people taking extended leaves of absences, to be out of the workforce for 12 to 18 months (in Canada), you often miss things like annual salary adjustments, bonus payouts, opportunities for development and training, growth, and promotions. These compounding effects leave (stereotypically) women further behind in pay and in the workplace.

In a hetero-normative family, the male is typically the one who doesn't take as much leave as the female. In building equitable programs, I went deep into understanding what incentives need to be given to men for them to consider taking lengthy leaves. That's where top-ups come in.

The first mistake I often see in company programs for parental leave is the labelling of “primary” and “secondary” parents. This inherently feeds into the misogynistic narrative that one parent should take on more of the caregiver workload. The second mistake that I often see is that companies will specify a different top-up amount for who they deem to be the “primary parent” vs. the “secondary parent”.

Again, this approach is contrary to creating equitable leave sharing. It actually creates a disincentive for the “secondary parent” to take any parental leave. We need to challenge these social norms by designing parental benefit programs to produce the outcome (social impact) that we want to see. The parental benefits programs I've built in the past included incentives to combat these stereotypes and incentivize leave sharing among both parents.

10KC: Research has shown that organizations that prioritize fair pay see an increase in employee productivity and satisfaction, while also reducing costly compliance risks and damage to brand reputation. Even so, the pay disparity still exists. Why do you think this is and why are companies so slow to adopt equitable hiring and benefits and compensation packages for their employees?

Duong: There is an antiquated approach to over-emphasizing the bottom line and cheap labour. Lots of companies and studies out there have proven otherwise.

People are your most important asset at any company. This wasn’t always the case. People used to be viewed as dispensable and replaceable. There’s been a shift in this perspective, especially when it comes to knowledge workers. Companies are now understanding that there is a multiplier effect when losing a great employee, the impact of the loss is far greater than just the cost of replacing the person. 

10KC: What can organizations do to be better allies and supporters for equity seeking employees to lessen the disparity?

Duong: Design equity into your programs, policies, and systems. This is something you can control. What you can’t control is people. So take away the unconscious bias and discrimination presented by the uncontrollable factor. 

I've dug into some research regarding the psychology and biases that surround gender. Some of the studies that greatly resonated with me had to do with recruitment, salary negotiations and gender biases. Women are already less likely to apply for jobs than men.

Studies have shown that men will apply for a job if they meet 60% of the criteria in the job description and women generally only apply if they meet 100% of the criteria for that role. So we’re getting less women applying for more senior and/or technical roles, which typically are higher paying, because they don’t think they’re qualified. 

And then when it comes to negotiations about compensation, women are less likely to negotiate than men, so they're also starting off on a lower pay band. So, why do women negotiate less? Studies have shown that there is a social stigma that follows women who negotiate — it has to do with the perception of likeability. It has been found that when a man negotiates his salary, there is no change in his perceived likeability. When a woman negotiates her salary, there is a negative change in her perceived likeability. That leads to unconscious bias and discrimination that can impact the type of work she's assigned, as well as her performance reviews, development opportunities, future pay increases, etc. Women have been pigeonholed into not negotiating and this puts them further behind men in terms of pay, causing the gender pay gap to increase. For anyone curious to learn more, Iris Bohnet’s What Works: Gender Equality By Design is a book that I highly recommend. It has informed much of my approach to program design today. 

10KC: What advice would you give to women who feel their compensation is not on par with industry standards for their respective role? 

Duong: As a society, we've made it taboo to talk about compensation and to ask for raises. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. That’s probably the biggest piece of advice I have given to women and other equity seeking groups — if you don't ask for it, it's never going to happen.  

I know it’s so much easier said than done to just tell people to “ask for it”. To remove some of the anxiety and fear, my suggestion is to prepare for the conversation. Come in with solid data points — your credibility will be sounder. There are a variety of compensation data sources that you can access for free (e.g, Levels.fyi, various compensation reports like Robert Half, PayScale, LinkedIn, etc.). Try to find the closest match to your job title, industry, geographic location, and company (e.g., size, funding model). Do your research about your company’s HR compensation practices. What's the decision criteria for compensation adjustments or bonus allocations? Are there guidelines for when they occur? Do they have a defined process, job levels, pay bands?

I also want to share some advice for what not to do. Don’t have this conversation without having done the above suggested research. Don’t just ask for an arbitrary number. Don’t base your ask off of “what you heard from others”. You degrade your credibility by asking for an increase in this way. 

To learn more about 10KC's culture and benefit programs visit our careers page.

Important Information, Definitions and Dates for Equal Pay Day


Pay Equity Day/Equal Pay Day: Equal Pay Day was created to raise awareness of the gender pay gap. It symbolizes how far into the year the average woman must work in order to have earned what the average man had earned the entire previous year (Equal Pay Coalition).

Gender Pay Gap: the gender pay gap refers to the difference in average earnings of people based on gender. It is a widely recognized indicator of gender inequities, and it exists across industries and professional levels. 

The gender pay gap is worse for those who face multiple barriers, including racialize women, Indigenous women, and women with disabilities. Though it differs by age group, the gap starts from a young age and carries into the senior years (Moyser, Statistics Canada, 2019).

Canada:
In Canada Equal Pay Day is April 12th

United States:
In the United States Equal Pay Day is March 15

United Kingdom:
In Great Britain Equal Pay Day is observed on November 18th 

Webinar

#EqualPayDay and the Case for Pay Transparency with Angie Duong Head of People, 10KC

“Equal Pay Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the gender pay gap,” according to the Equal Pay Coalition. April 12th is when companies and organizations come together to acknowledge the pay gap and make strides toward equality in the workplace. According to the Government of Canada, women make just 88 cents on the dollar compared to men. In the United States according to the Pew Research Center, women earn 84 cents on the male’s dollar.  At Ten Thousand Coffees (10KC), the company fundamentally believes in providing transparency when it comes to all of its people programs, including compensation and equal pay. In this Q&A, Angie Duong, Head of People at 10KC, discusses the role HR plays in shrinking the gender pay gap, how she’s revamping the company’s compensation and benefits programs, the positive effects of the #ShowUsYourLeave campaign on companies’ behavior, why women should negotiate, and how organizations can be better allies for their female employees.

10KC
: Tell us about yourself and the journey that led you to being Head of People at 10KC.

Duong: I've been a human resources practitioner for over a decade. I've had the privilege of working in a variety of different industries, from oil and gas to government to technology, and all of these varied experiences have been incredibly formative towards my philosophy around people practices. When I transitioned into the tech industry, that's when the bug hit me. Specifically, the start-up bug. I realized I had a strong passion for building things from the ground up. These types of environments allow me to be innovative and (constructively) disruptive! 

What attracted me to 10KC was their purpose and mission really spoke to me, and that rings true of most of the people that join our company. I value working for a company that has social impact and social purpose as part of its mission statement. I’m thrilled to be in a position where I can help 10KC scale and grow.


10KC
: In your role, you’ve been revamping 10KC’s current employee compensation and benefits programs. Can you elaborate on what you’re doing and how this will benefit the 10KC team? 

Duong: We're bringing in a lot of structure, visibility, and transparency to our compensation program and building a foundation for scale. We’ve implemented regular compensation cycles to create consistency around our compensation events (e.g., base salary adjustments, bonuses, etc.). We are also working on creating job levels and pay bands for all of our roles. Our pay bands are informed by multiple sources of market data, which we will share with our team members so that they know where it came from.

Once this foundation is built, we will be completing a pay equity review to determine if any inequities exist across our different people groups. If they do, then we are going to talk about it as a company, which is an important part of our diversity, equity, and inclusion philosophy, and we will work to correct any discrepancies  we uncover. Our utmost priority is our people and building a culture where our people will thrive and feel like they are treated fairly. Our processes and programs need to align to that.

10KC: Equal Pay Day was created to shed light on the gender biases that still exist in workplaces. Why are these initiatives so important?

Duong: Nowadays, more companies are sharing their pay ranges as part of their job postings. Just five years ago, that would have been largely unheard of. Sharing pay ranges in job postings is a huge step towards equal pay. Equity seeking communities, including women, now have a frame of reference for what they should be paid. It reduces some of the discrimination as part of the recruitment process and helps people from undervaluing their worth when negotiating their salaries. 

The same lens of transparency can be applied to parental benefits programs. Information about parental benefits programs haven’t been shared broadly in the past - up until recently, anyways. The recent #ShowUsYourLeave campaign increased awareness and transparency around parental benefits programs. When companies openly share this level of detail about their people programs, especially those that promote gender equity, it becomes easier for employees and candidates to align with a company and its culture. It helps people find companies that share the same values and principles as they do.

Transparency initiatives like Equal Pay Day and #ShowUsYourLeave holds companies accountable for advancing the world of work.  If companies all see others are doing it, they will (generally) follow suit. No one wants to be left behind in the fight for talent – especially in today’s talent market. There’s still a bit of an antiquated approach to not sharing your “secret sauce” – some companies have some innovative practices surrounding equity, but are not sharing their practices and programs publicly. I am a firm believer you should want to be sharing your program details — as this is for the betterment of all equity seeking groups. 

10KC: Why do you think women are still fighting to be paid equally as their male counterparts? What can organizations do to be better allies and supporters for their women-identifying employees to lessen this disparity?

Duong: Parental benefits play a large part in pay equity. I strongly believe that every company needs to have a parental benefits program that is designed with equity in mind. When you have one specific demographic of people taking extended leaves of absences, to be out of the workforce for 12 to 18 months (in Canada), you often miss things like annual salary adjustments, bonus payouts, opportunities for development and training, growth, and promotions. These compounding effects leave (stereotypically) women further behind in pay and in the workplace.

In a hetero-normative family, the male is typically the one who doesn't take as much leave as the female. In building equitable programs, I went deep into understanding what incentives need to be given to men for them to consider taking lengthy leaves. That's where top-ups come in.

The first mistake I often see in company programs for parental leave is the labelling of “primary” and “secondary” parents. This inherently feeds into the misogynistic narrative that one parent should take on more of the caregiver workload. The second mistake that I often see is that companies will specify a different top-up amount for who they deem to be the “primary parent” vs. the “secondary parent”.

Again, this approach is contrary to creating equitable leave sharing. It actually creates a disincentive for the “secondary parent” to take any parental leave. We need to challenge these social norms by designing parental benefit programs to produce the outcome (social impact) that we want to see. The parental benefits programs I've built in the past included incentives to combat these stereotypes and incentivize leave sharing among both parents.

10KC: Research has shown that organizations that prioritize fair pay see an increase in employee productivity and satisfaction, while also reducing costly compliance risks and damage to brand reputation. Even so, the pay disparity still exists. Why do you think this is and why are companies so slow to adopt equitable hiring and benefits and compensation packages for their employees?

Duong: There is an antiquated approach to over-emphasizing the bottom line and cheap labour. Lots of companies and studies out there have proven otherwise.

People are your most important asset at any company. This wasn’t always the case. People used to be viewed as dispensable and replaceable. There’s been a shift in this perspective, especially when it comes to knowledge workers. Companies are now understanding that there is a multiplier effect when losing a great employee, the impact of the loss is far greater than just the cost of replacing the person. 

10KC: What can organizations do to be better allies and supporters for equity seeking employees to lessen the disparity?

Duong: Design equity into your programs, policies, and systems. This is something you can control. What you can’t control is people. So take away the unconscious bias and discrimination presented by the uncontrollable factor. 

I've dug into some research regarding the psychology and biases that surround gender. Some of the studies that greatly resonated with me had to do with recruitment, salary negotiations and gender biases. Women are already less likely to apply for jobs than men.

Studies have shown that men will apply for a job if they meet 60% of the criteria in the job description and women generally only apply if they meet 100% of the criteria for that role. So we’re getting less women applying for more senior and/or technical roles, which typically are higher paying, because they don’t think they’re qualified. 

And then when it comes to negotiations about compensation, women are less likely to negotiate than men, so they're also starting off on a lower pay band. So, why do women negotiate less? Studies have shown that there is a social stigma that follows women who negotiate — it has to do with the perception of likeability. It has been found that when a man negotiates his salary, there is no change in his perceived likeability. When a woman negotiates her salary, there is a negative change in her perceived likeability. That leads to unconscious bias and discrimination that can impact the type of work she's assigned, as well as her performance reviews, development opportunities, future pay increases, etc. Women have been pigeonholed into not negotiating and this puts them further behind men in terms of pay, causing the gender pay gap to increase. For anyone curious to learn more, Iris Bohnet’s What Works: Gender Equality By Design is a book that I highly recommend. It has informed much of my approach to program design today. 

10KC: What advice would you give to women who feel their compensation is not on par with industry standards for their respective role? 

Duong: As a society, we've made it taboo to talk about compensation and to ask for raises. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. That’s probably the biggest piece of advice I have given to women and other equity seeking groups — if you don't ask for it, it's never going to happen.  

I know it’s so much easier said than done to just tell people to “ask for it”. To remove some of the anxiety and fear, my suggestion is to prepare for the conversation. Come in with solid data points — your credibility will be sounder. There are a variety of compensation data sources that you can access for free (e.g, Levels.fyi, various compensation reports like Robert Half, PayScale, LinkedIn, etc.). Try to find the closest match to your job title, industry, geographic location, and company (e.g., size, funding model). Do your research about your company’s HR compensation practices. What's the decision criteria for compensation adjustments or bonus allocations? Are there guidelines for when they occur? Do they have a defined process, job levels, pay bands?

I also want to share some advice for what not to do. Don’t have this conversation without having done the above suggested research. Don’t just ask for an arbitrary number. Don’t base your ask off of “what you heard from others”. You degrade your credibility by asking for an increase in this way. 

To learn more about 10KC's culture and benefit programs visit our careers page.

Important Information, Definitions and Dates for Equal Pay Day


Pay Equity Day/Equal Pay Day: Equal Pay Day was created to raise awareness of the gender pay gap. It symbolizes how far into the year the average woman must work in order to have earned what the average man had earned the entire previous year (Equal Pay Coalition).

Gender Pay Gap: the gender pay gap refers to the difference in average earnings of people based on gender. It is a widely recognized indicator of gender inequities, and it exists across industries and professional levels. 

The gender pay gap is worse for those who face multiple barriers, including racialize women, Indigenous women, and women with disabilities. Though it differs by age group, the gap starts from a young age and carries into the senior years (Moyser, Statistics Canada, 2019).

Canada:
In Canada Equal Pay Day is April 12th

United States:
In the United States Equal Pay Day is March 15

United Kingdom:
In Great Britain Equal Pay Day is observed on November 18th 

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