Dane Atkinson has no qualms telling you how much he makes for a living: “I make $145,000, which is the top band for our organization.” He’s the CEO of SumAll, an analytics company in New York City. For Atkinson and his 50 employees, knowing each other’s salary is just part of working there.
It reduces what he calls the “evils” of traditional hiring. “I’ve never been in a company where salaries haven’t leaked out at some point and caused a huge amount of damage,” says Atkinson. “I’ve also unfortunately acted evilly in the past where I’d meet with a woman and a man and they’d both offer themselves up at different salary ratios and I’d happily pick whatever they were looking for,” he said. “And in the end you create damage in your cap tables, you create damage in your salaries that will come back and haunt you.”
“When you get to a world where everyone has individualized bonus goals and manager discretion, all of a sudden it gives people a big black box that gives people anxiety,” says Linda Barrington, executive director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University.
So when Atkinson created SumAll, he built in an open-salary policy. Every employee can look at an internal wiki document to see what every other employee is making. It’s part of a growing trend of companies that have decided transparency is king.