If you’ve been anywhere near the internet recently, you’ll know that Dave Chapelle’s Netflix comedy special The Closer has been criticised for transphobic material, sparking visceral debate within Netflix and an employee walkout about the company’s decision to produce it.
This isn’t a post to debate Netflix’s actions, but rather to highlight the events as an example of how corporate decisions can harm marginalised communities, particularly for anyone who might be wondering about how to approach these issues.
Terra Field, a senior software engineer at Netflix and VP of the Trans* Employee Resource Group at the company, wrote a tweet thread that went viral about Chapelle and formalised some of her thoughts on the events in a personal blog post.
We’re not going to summarise the post here because you should read Terra’s views in her words. The blog is an articulate explanation of how actions like this devalue and marginalise communities, how they take place within companies, and how this can be changed.
If you’re in the early years of people management, chances are that you’ll be in a 1:1 or performance review with your boss, and they’ll look at you and say something like:
‘Things are going well but it would be great if you could think more… strategically.’
And you’ll pause for second, give their words a second to sink in, and then you’ll say something like:
‘Ok thank you for letting me know, do you have any suggestions for how I should go about that.’
And then it will get awkward.
Because whilst ‘being more strategic’ sounds great, it’s really hard to define. As Lesley Sim, co-founder of Newsletter Glue says:
‘There are many levels and definitions of strategy and everyone is answering the question from their own vantage point. Being strategic as a junior marketer in a year-old startup is a totally different ball game to being strategic as Chairman of a Fortune 500.’
Fortunately Sim didn’t stop there, and provides some ways she thinks we can actually be more strategic in our roles.
Dianne is an Engineering Manager at a social media management company, working remotely from Zurich. They earn USD 179,675 a year.
Their colleague, Mike, a Product Marketer working from Sydney, earns USD 123,930.
How do we know this? Because the company, Buffer, publishes all their salary information, right up to the CEO (Joel, Colorado, USD 290,250 in case you were wondering).
Buffer has been doing this since 2013, but there are signs that other companies are catching on, driven by a competitive hiring market and efforts to improve pay equity.
Recent reporting has highlighted how some companies are providing employees and prospective applicants with ‘compensation calculators’ so they can work out exactly how much they would earn in different positions in the company. For other companies, this also means ‘interactive offer letters’ where applicants can select their preferences for a balance of salary and stock options and compare it to any offers they have from other companies.
Now all this may sound too radical for your own organisation, and that’s fine. But the trends only point one way. At the very least, over the coming months as you’re hiring, expect to field questions much earlier in the process about the salaries you pay at different levels.
If you want to close candidates, have some good answers waiting.
Right now, we should all be experimenting in our workplaces. Or if not, we’re doing it wrong.
There has been such a profound change in individuals’ relationships with their work and how they approach it that ‘going back to normal’ or saying ‘this is how it’s going to be’ will be doomed to failure.
Instead, we should be trying new things in small groups, seeing what works, learning, reinforcing success, and moving on from failure. In short, experimenting.
But for many workplaces, that won’t come naturally, and some good examples will be very helpful.
Step forward six individual contributors and one manager from Atlassian’s content team, who over the summer trialled a four day week, and took the time to tell us exactly how they did it.
If you’re interested in implementing a four day week, then all the better. But as a playbook for experimenting on anything with your teams, it’s a great guide.
The key points they raise are: