For Lee and I as founders of Flash Pack, the chance to relaunch our travel business after the storm of Covid has been nothing short of a gift. And, along with being able to reconnect with our global community (oh happy days!), Flash Pack 2.0 has given us the chance to rethink how we do things. To create next-level adventures and a team culture that is rooted in transparency and fairness.
Like many businesses, we’ve thought hard about how to help our employees feel heard and valued in a post-Covid market: and we’re happy with how we stand on benefits such as flexibility, training and a generous pension scheme. But one area we realise we were falling behind on, and feel strongly about, is the issue of pay transparency.
While the changes of Covid have sparked many important conversations around workplace satisfaction, salary secrecy persists – in what Wired magazine describes as “the final bastion of equitable working”. Failing to be open about pay processes not only creates insecurity; it also aggravates gender and ethnicity pay gaps.
The travel industry already lags behind other sectors when it comes to diversity and inclusion
The travel industry already lags behind other sectors when it comes to diversity and inclusion; and the last thing we want is for Flash Pack to be part of that problem. We’d far rather smash that ceiling and pave the way to change. So – we rolled up our sleeves, and conducted a full and frank audit of the way we retain our talent. Our review revealed a number of problem areas:
- Pay decisions were being made by hiring managers in an inconsistent way using woefully inadequate data sources. This was slowing down our ability to scale the team
- Keeping pay levels a secret creates a culture of mistrust and suspicion, with some members feeling undervalued
- Since we have always felt our salary packages were competitive against industry standards, why didn’t we spell them out in job descriptions? It was a contradiction to fix
These disparities made us recognise that, if we really care about diversity and inclusion, and treating everyone equitably – and we do more than anything – we need to put our money where our mouth is. We can’t simply give new candidates an uplift on their previous salary: doing so only adds to the damage done by other companies, compounding pay inequalities. And we can’t tolerate our team’s pay being dependent on how confident they are at negotiating. How is that fair?
A salary is about acknowledging the impact that our employees have, and the responsibilities they agree to: not whether or not they can persuade their way to better pay. That’s an extra hoop that candidates shouldn’t have to jump through, and it’s the core of all kinds of (hidden) injustices.
So, Flash Pack has made some key changes in the way we recognise and reward employees – here’s our progress so far:
1:We’ve created a performance and progression framework with the support of Alistair at Justly, a company that helps startups demystify career progression and compensation. The model covers what knowledge and skills Flash Pack employees need at each available salary level, along with detailing the impact, communication and problem-solving skills required to move to the next level of pay.
2: In tandem, we created a compensation calculator by benchmarking all Flash Pack roles and levels against a large body of salary data canvassed from 3000 similar startups. Roles are grouped given the demand for different skills. Because the travel industry significantly underpaid compared to the data sources we had, we decided to benchmark our salaries to startups. It’s more challenging to hire people in tech, so Flash Pack’s calculator reflects this, too. You can explore and play with our compensation calculator here:
3: All Flash Pack job adverts now have public salary bands and options grants (i.e. the right to acquire a set number of shares of stock in Flash Pack at a set price). Anyone interested in a Flash Pack role can therefore see what they can expect to earn, plus the options granted for that position. We offer a sliding scale so that staff can trade salary for more options if they choose to – with a minimum salary amount to allow personal choice without reinforcing privilege.
4: We held levelling conversations with every current team member at Flash Pack, to explain why they are on a particular level of pay. This was also an opportunity to discuss their career ambitions, and the next steps we could take to support their personal growth. The majority of our team got a salary increase as a result of these sessions, which was a nice bonus.
5: Every existing Flash Pack team member also chose their salary and options package, based on bands set out by our new compensation calculator. Since sharing exact salary and options packages is a personal choice, we don’t publish these for each individual staff member – but neither do we have an expectation of secrecy. Employees are welcome to share their package details if they want to.
6: To that end, Lee and I, as founders of Flash Pack, shared our salaries with the team to keep us accountable, and ensure we are not being distracted by low-impact work.
Anyone interested in a Flash Pack role can therefore see what they can expect to earn, plus the options granted for that position.
The question of pay transparency is an evolving process so if you have any tips or ideas on what you’d like to see us do to improve things – or perhaps a strategy that your own company is pursuing that works – we’d love to hear about it. Drop us an email on email@example.com.
We are hiring across the company, with salaries and options published for every role. If you love adventure travel as much as we do, come and join us! You can check out all our latest vacancies by connecting with Flash Pack on LinkedIn.