Chris Talbot-Heindl Archive

Why does equitable need-based pay make white folks so scared?

“I’m writing an article about how to start offering equitable pay and I’m remembering an organization that had every person’s salary band start the same, regardless of their position, and had it based on need (those with more dependents earned at the higher end of the band, those without generational wealth, earned at the higher end, etc). But I can’t, for the life of me, remember the name of the organization or where I saw it. Can anyone offer guidance?”

This is what I asked three different groups as I set out to research something for my last article “Underpaid staff don’t need motivation, they need dollar bills and benefits.”

I asked because I knew I had heard of an organization doing just this and assumed I had heard it in one of these three groups. It was a straightforward question, and I expected a straightforward answer.

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Underpaid staff don’t need motivation, they need dollar bills and benefits

“Financially, [working at a nonprofit] can’t work for a lot of people. And in fact, with a nonprofit our size — boy, you almost have to be in a committed relationship with somebody else with an income, because you’re not — it’s hard to support yourself on what we can pay people, in Denver.”

This was the moment my Executive Director (ED) finally admitted that what I was being paid wasn’t enough to support me. I was just one month shy of six years into my position at the organization, and she didn’t say this quote directly to me. She said it on a podcast that she was featured in as a nonprofit leader.

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Always give a cost of living increase — yes, especially after 2020

Usually at the end of any given year, all throughout Facebook Nonprofit Group Land, white, cisgender, heterosexual, abled women in HR and director positions start numerous posts asking different variations of, “What end of the year gift should we be giving our employees to show our appreciation for their work?”

And the answer is always the same, from me, anyway — a raise or a bonus. Please don’t give people desk organizers (supplies should be provided by workplaces, not given as gifts) or gift cards to “nice” (read: expensive) restaurants.

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