In episode 85 of Mission: Impact, Carol Hamilton and Mala Nagarajan discuss organizational development, compensation structures, and critical discussions within nonprofit organizations. They explore the limitations of market-based compensation, the concept of a thriving wage, and the importance of aligning organizational values with employee compensation. Mala emphasizes the need for transparent and comprehensive approaches to compensation, touching on various factors such as areas of responsibility, risk assessment, and the significance of understanding one's relationship with money. In addition they explore how to integrate compensating for the emotional labor required in a role. They discuss the complexities of legal considerations and highlight the need for organizations to reevaluate traditional practices to foster a more equitable and holistic work environment.
02:27: Creating equitable compensation models for organizations
04:50: Principles underpinning the work
08:16: The importance of interdependence
13:08- Transparency in compensation
16:21 Emotional labor and compensation
26:00 - Recognizing individual strengths and aligning them with organizational roles beyond just financial incentives
32:00 - Biases and values embedded in market-based compensation structures
37:00 - Implementing a thriving wage, distinct from a living wage
45:00 - The "conditions for readiness" necessary for successful implementation
53:00 - Assessing risk tolerance
Mala Nagarajan is a senior HR consultant who works with nonprofit organizations rooted in racial and social justice values. She is driven by a vision of strong organizations working collaboratively toward a common purpose and approaches her HR work with a values-aligned, people-centered, and movement-oriented lens. Mala is a consultant with RoadMap, a national network of consultants who work with social justice organizations. She helped organize RoadMap’s HR/RJ (racial justice) working group. Mala has developed an innovative Compensation Equity Process and Calculator™ that reverse-engineers supremacy out and re-engineers equity in. It’s an evolving approach accompanied with a custom tool that organizations can use to shift from a market-based to an anti-racist compensation model that centers those living at the intersections of multiple marginalized communities.
Important Links and Resources:
Mala Nagarajan - https://www.linkedin.com/in/malanagarajan/
Vega Mala Consulting | www.vegamala.com
Marilyn Waring TED talk on what the GDP misses -- https://www.tedxchristchurch.com/marilyn-waring
The MIT Living Wage Calculator: https://livingwage.mit.edu/
Hidden Brain episodes on budgets: https://hiddenbrain.org/podcast/money-2-0-why-we-bust-our-budgets/
Learn more about Mala’s compensation work here: Fund the People: Compensation Philosophy, NPQ-Compensation Equity: A Values-Based Framework & Implementation Guide, Top Tips to Stop Widening the Wealth Gap, Why Radical Human Resources is Critical for Movement Organizations, Equitable Compensation is a Risk Worth Taking, Brave Questions: Recalculating Pay Equity, Don't Put Metal in the Microwave and other Compensation Myths, Transforming the Workplace: HR Innovations, Pay Scale Equity Process and Calculator.
HR resources: RoadMap Consulting: Human Resources and Justice: Addressing Racism and Sexism in the Workplace. Washington Nonprofits: Workers in Nonprofits. The Management Center: Making Compensation More Equitable.
Carol Hamilton: Well, welcome Mala. Welcome to Mission: Impact.
Mala Nagarajan: Thank you. Thanks for inviting me.
Carol: I always like to start each conversation with just asking each guest, what drew you to the work that you do? What would you say motivates you? Or what, how would you describe your why?
Mala: I think I've been drawn to HR since my first job, or at least improving the workplace. I can remember getting involved in for my first job in how to make the workplace more amenable for everybody and welcoming and, then I think that another piece that's been a driving force in my why is my mom, who never held a paid W two job, but was often was a volunteer at a local library. And the immense confidence it gave her to be able to do some work and put books in alphabetical order, or she'd come to one of my jobs and help Scan or copy newspapers and just people feeling valuable and valued in the workplace and how meaningful it is just is so core. If it just feels like we get so much meaning out of what we're doing, what we're, how we're able to support others.
Carol: One of the things that you do, I think probably the main thing that you do is help organizations create more equitable compensation models for their staff. And that's really the most tangible way in a lot of ways that organizations value people. So it goes to that core that you're talking about.
What would you say are some of the principles that undergird that work?
Mala: I think that some of the principles that undergird the specific framework and model that I'm working on starts with being values-based. I'm trying to create a structure, a compensation structure that is relational. Typically in the for-profit, capitalist structure our pay is very individualistic.
We negotiate and we don't know anybody else's pay. I'm trying to adopt as a more relational one we're with nonprofits, they only have a certain amount of budget. They may be able to grow their budget, they may not be able to, but how do we have our compensation be in relationship to each other so that it's not so that there's equity? It doesn't have to be the same, but people wanna have some transparency in what our salary looks like. It also tries to, the structure or the framework that I use tries to embody interdependence and the interdependence of our work itself. It's very customizable and organizations can customize what they're valuing specifically based on the type of work that they're doing, the communities that they're serving. And really link the communities and the impact they're trying to have all the way to their staff. So how do you really value the types of ways that staff are connected with the communities that you're serving?
Carol: You talk about it being relational. Can you give me an example of what that might look like?
Mala:. My work in this aspect really draws from some work that my colleagues at the Roadmap social justice consulting network created. And this is like my Lisa Weer, Margie Clark, Rita Sever, Bridgette Rouson. Margie in particular had created a wage survey that was a collaboration between Roadmap, the National Organizers Alliance and the Data Center. And they surveyed over 215 social justice nonprofits. And what they found was that there was a relationship between the lowest and the highest paid person in the organization. When you keep those in relationship, there's something about the highest salary can't go up until the lowest also goes up. And when you're in that type of relationship, whatever you're doing to your salary is also benefiting other people. The typical, typical ratio between the lowest salary and the highest salary was somewhere around 2.2 to three times where the highest salary was two to three times the lowest salary. There's other ways that it can be relational. I know one of the clients that I work with. If somebody does negotiate a higher salary, they apply that negotiation to everybody at the same level. So it really shows that we're all, we're impacting each other, not just ourselves.
Carol: So I guess that that goes to that interdependence that you were talking about, and you also used the word transparency, which I feel like people use all the time and about all the things. Can you say a little bit more about what that might look like in an instance like this?
Mala:. I talk about transparency in that most organizations just have a number that is the salary or, or a range that is a salary for a particular job class or type of position. And what I talk about is -- we don't really know what goes into that number and taking it apart, reverse engineering, that whole number and kind of. Taking it apart, looking at the pieces that are going into potential pieces, potential compensation factors, and say of these factors, what are the ones that are really meaningful to us that we really wanna recognize and lift up? How do we look at it from an equity lens? Which of these factors are embedded in them inequity. For example, I think education is a good example. Education is not accessible for everyone. And if someone can do the job without a particular level of education, why put that level of education as a barrier? That's probably one of the most common ones that people cite.
But then we, we let organizations really identify what are the ones that are, what are the compensation factors that are values aligned, and then let's re-engineer that into the salary so people know what it's made up of. So at the very least, it's about we know what's in the salary, we know what makes it, makes up. We know what makes up the salary. Second, we know what the process is to do for the different aspects of compensation and, in very clear or transparent organizations, everybody's salary is known. I
Carol: One of the things that struck me when I was reading about the framework that you work with was, those compensation factors that you're talking about. Some of the ones were, I think a lot of folks who work, do this work are familiar with in terms of, what are the skills that are needed, what are the competencies, what's the education as you were talking about, but you were also in, in the description recognizing other kinds of labor such as, physical labor, people might already recognize that, but, more in terms of emotional labor. And I don't think that's typically been valued, recognized and certainly not compensated for, in many ways.
How, just at first, how do you define emotional labor?
Mala:. That's a great question and it's really sticky for a lot of people 'cause it's like, how do you define it as just, people being emotional or allowing emotion to be part of our workspace so that we're actually more whole. It's not just logical and rational, but also emotional. We draw from the definition of the sociological definition of emotional labor, so labor that the position itself requires where the circumstances that the position a position is required to be in may bring up emotions that the person in the position needs to put aside and respond in a different way. This could be care work, it could be, it's often associated with customer service, but it could be care work where people are like dealing with logistics for a conference and they're basically serving people to make sure they can get and enjoy the conference in the fullest manner that they can.
It could be folks who are dealing with crises. I think the typical example given in the sociology books is a police officer dealing with a crisis, but it really, in a nonprofit organization, can be the vicarious trauma that people are dealing with as they're directly serving the community with crisis management.
Or if they're working on direct action, and they're on the streets and they're having to deal with police. Or they're having to deal with opposition. Folks in, the mix making sure that everybody's safe, There's lots of different ways that one's emotions in the position based on the role that you have to serve. Might elicit other emotions and stress and stuff like that, but that part of your job is actually to manage that.
Carol: It is interesting that your very first example is just dealing with the logistics of a conference, which is a situation I've been in a lot of times and I don't know that I ever thought of it as care work. I thought when I heard that care work, I thought of the people taking care of my disabled brother, the people who took care of my dad as his health was failing before he died, and childcare. Those are the kinds of things that I'm thinking about. But when you put it in that frame, there's like, there's so much more that is actually care work. Can you gimme other examples of what that might be?
Mala:. There's one of the organizations I worked with. They were the ones who actually defined this logistical role as care work because they really expect that person in that logistical role to make it, it the smoothest experience for the participant as possible. 'cause they're dealing with member organizations. Another way that they redefined or, or, or split that apart is actually emotional labor.
They also created one that was around conflict management. Your relationship to conflict. And because they're working with lots of grassroots organizations, all their, all the people on staff at default, they have to be able to recognize when there's conflict between member organizations or our member representatives, or so they need to be able to recognize and be aware of that conflict.
They may not be the ones to do it. To address it, but they have to flag it and, and run it up to the next person. And then the other next person assesses the conflict to see what, what level of conflict is it. And they had different levels of people addressing conflict. The very highest level was someone who was helping mediate the. Emotional density of the conflict itself and actually being a mediator, negotiator supporting both or many parties to come to resolution and.
What a great way to recognize the labor that people are doing and also see it across the organization, across all the different positions. And at the very least, one of the things that we include in our framework is a level zero, which is everybody's responsibility in every single area of responsibility that's or compensation factor that's identified. There's a Level zero, which is basically What are the basics that are required by everybody?
For conflict resolution, it's knowing what my own conflict style is or the tendency that I have. It's knowing what are the things that trigger me. It is knowing how to, what different kinds of conflict there are.
Like recognizing that disagreement does not equal abuse. And, and, conflict does not equal abuse. Like actually recognizing that different manifestations that sometimes get confused as conflict but are different things.
Carol: You talked about it being values aligned, relational, transparent, and interdependent. Are there other principles that go into the framework?
Mala: I wanna expand on the interdependent 'cause I feel like that's super important. We don't recognize how our work is interdependent. And this model tries to again, embody that. Let's say communications is an area of responsibility that the organization wants to recognize as a function, the functional aspect of communications. You can have program folks and fundraising folks all have scores and communication because the program folks are feeding the information to communications so that, and Crafting the story. Like really bringing the stories from the community that the communications folks will be then disseminating. The fundraising folks need to also intersect with the communications function of the organization to make sure that the fundraising aspects of the communication are identified and that there's opportunity put in. So we're really looking at how are people collaborating with each other or working together to actually see some aspect forward, and really understanding how the different components different people in different positions are interacting with communications or if you're a program person or you're a front desk person and someone comes into the office and you wanna make sure that they're in the database in the CRM, so that communications folks and fundraising folks can have access to that data, that's part of your contribution. So those are ways that we're really putting it into the compensation system rather than just isolating it in a job description as one person's task to do.
Carol: Well, and it's funny 'cause I feel like so often organizations are complaining about or struggling with feeling siloed. And so it sounds like through that process you're actually mapping a lot of the interdependence that they may not even be recognizing is there and the collaboration that is happening and making it visible in a way that might not have been.
Mala: It's a pretty beautiful process when people are seeing it and, and I think it really helps people step up and own their work.
Carol: Can you describe the process that you walk organizations through?
Mala: That's a really good question. We've been in constant Development of our process .So in the beginning, about three or four years ago, it was just me and the person who had the HR function. And what I was proposing was just an HR intervention.
Mala: We didn't really have staff involved. It wasn't like a collective process.
It was like, okay, let's map out how work is happening and what might be just to get folks started and the basic structure of the compensation or the basic components of this compensation structure are, there's a base salary, and the base salary is not position oriented. The base salary is actually everyone from the ED to the entry level person getting the exact same base salary. And then from that, the areas of responsibility that you're holding will get added to that base. and so we started that with the very first organization that we were working with. But over time in the last two years, we've really shifted to a more organizational change process. What we noticed even though there was a good response to the compensation structure when staff were engaging with it. There was still a sense of people moving in the system individually. How do I get to the next highest level pay versus what's my best strength or what are my dependable strengths? What are the things that I want to increase my level of competency in? And how does that map in the system and how can I move both if I have, I might have financial goals and monetary goals, and that's great. But it's not just about that. It's also about what are you strong at and how can the organization and you be in alignment so that you're able to use your aptitudes and your strengths and not just have to become a supervisor in order to get more money.
Because we know not everybody is made out to be a supervisor,
Carol: Very few people are made out to be of.
Mala:. And, we know, from the Gallup poll, your manager is the most important person in your workspace and contributes to your employee engagement. Let's not put someone who's not really doesn't have that skill set in that position just so that they can get a raise.
Carol: Or doesn't wanna develop it. doesn't have the interest in developing it.
'cause certainly there's a huge challenge with having people access management training in the sector.
Mala: Now we're doing more of an organizational change process and we're continuing to develop that. I think we're getting a little bit more nuanced about it. One of the things I'm looking forward to this next year is really helping people to get to those Critical discussions that we never have in the workplace. My colleague Rochelle Faithful is going to be completing a discussion guide for organizations where they can really interface based on this process that we use, and then have critical discussions about. Do we wanna follow the market? Do we want to compete with the market or do we want to make sure our internal salaries are equitable in relationship to each other? And it's not an either or question. 'cause we actually need to do both.
Carol: What are some other examples of those critical conversations that organizations need to have?
Mala:. Am I working for money? Oh. Am I, is it, is it a work to, am I working to live or living to work? Right? Like, what are the individual values that we're coming into the workplace with, and what are the values of the organization that are different from ours? And how do we actually navigate? Different people's value systems within a workplace. So I, I think the easiest example of this also is, what does a workplace mean to us is so different based on generational differences and how, what events and our. Our lifetime has affected attitudes around work, right? And so we're really encouraging folks to come up with an employer philosophy that sets down where we wanna walk the line in terms of our workplace. And so you might come from a different generation or a different culture where work means something different. And this is how we're bringing people together around work. And what it means to be an employee in this organization.
Carol: I feel like that question is definitely very alive right now. Been having conversations with lots of different people about them renegotiating their relationship to work and what it means in their life and and there's so many cultural assumptions that come with that. Certainly the ones that I inherited were: Work is very central to your life. I'm trying to disentangle a little bit from that. But I, I love the idea of as an organization being really clear about, and not just having it be, -- we're adopting these cultural assumptions about what it means to be a quote, good employee or to show up well here in this space.
Can you say a little bit more? I think most organizations are used to if they, if they do any work around compensation, think about it from a market-based point of view, what are some pitfalls that are embedded in that standard approach?
Mala: I think one of my collaborators Sharon Davis just introduced me recently to Marilyn Warring's work. She's a New Zealander used to be a New Zealand parliamentarian and some work of hers in, in the seventies. She really talked about how the GDP is not a good example of productivity because it is only looking at growth on growth, which we cannot sustain. I think it was Donna Meadows who talks about systems, systems dynamics and like you. But there's limits to growth, right? Like meaning that the market is constantly looking to grow. And, it's constantly embedded in the market system, our values. So why is it that domestic workers and janitors and non-unionized farmers, agriculture, why are those professions valued less? Why is it that managers are valued more than the people that work under them? Is that an assumption? We want to adopt without question or do we wanna actually question it and say what is the importance of different people's work and how do we actually lift up unseen and undervalued work in the marketplace?
And how do we, typically it's women's work and people of color's work, black, indigenous healing, the different ways that we can come into the workplace, the different ways we have access to knowledge and in our culture, the dominant way of knowing something is this like a logical scientific method.
And there are lots of different ways of knowing and how do we actually learn from each other and bring that to the best of our ability to help the nonprofit organization to execute its mission.
Carol: You said before that it's not an either or, so it's not entirely throwing out the market-based construct, but it's looking at it and saying -- there are definitely values embedded in this. It's not neutral, The rhetoric is that it is neutral. like algorithms are neutral. No, they're not. They're all built by people,
I feel like the pandemic, I mean with who are the essential workers? Well, the people who are paid the least, who are least valued. And I, my most cynical self often thinks, my goodness, we value in terms of money that people who do the most harm in the world.
I mean like the people who do good on a daily basis don't get paid much.
And the people who are wrecking things get paid a lot.
Mala: It's so true. That's so true. It feels like nonprofits, if any organization or any sector is gonna change those kinds of default value systems. It's the nonprofit sector or benefit corps or organizations with a more of a stakeholder approach rather than a shareholder approach.
Carol: And of course as you said at the beginning, nonprofits, or, well, any organization is constrained by budget, but particularly social justice nonprofits are constrained and so they may have aspirations that they can't fully. Live out because of those, those funding constraints and, and just the money that's coming in revenue.
What are some of the other critical, it's very hard to balance it all.
But I'm really appreciating that people are taking a stab at it in a way that I don't think was true when I first started where it was all about what was outside, what was the mission, and very little attention to what was inside the organization.
That disconnect between. Our mission for creating this change, empowering women in the workplace. I literally worked at an organization whose mission was to empower women in the workplace and they would hire women in order to pay them as little as possible. it's like this little bit of a disconnect there.
Mala: exactly. Exactly. If nothing else, we have to get the mission aligned pieces. We have to be able to accomplish them inside of our organizations if we have any expectation of accomplishing them outside.
If we can't do it internally in our organizations, what evidence can we bring to, to say that this is possible,
Carol: What are some of the other critical conversations that organizations need to have? You talked about having a shared understanding of what it means to be an employee here and how we're approaching work.
Mala: One of the things that there's a whole bunch of what we call polarities that are happening in the workplace. An example is, oh, we had this great conversation about geolocation as a compensation factor. Do you adjust the salary for where people live? And so there's two aspects and like for some people it's like, no, you don't adjust it because people, that's somebody's personal choice where they live. And then for other folks it's like, well, we can't hire people in particular, we can't hire the best employee. They happen to be from San Francisco, so we need to pay them at the market level. That San Francisco salaries are at compensation are at. So those are kinds of questions like, where are the boundaries?
Where are the and there's actually upsides to doing either one, right? Paying at the market level based on the geography, or not paying. And there's also downsides for both. So how do we actually, as an organization, come to a more collective understanding and perspective of where those lines are?
Where do we cross the value line and start moving from where we're seeing the upsides of one direction, and then we're going into the downsides because we've, we've overvalued it to the neglect of this other perspective. Polarity Partnerships is a great resource for that. Barry Johnson is the one who created the polarity mapping. It's a great tool to have those conversations.
Carol: I love working with polarities because I feel like oftentimes, so often people can really get caught up in advocating for one side or the other, I mean like a classic one is in the sector, is that we should be working at the systemic level. We've gotta solve these big systemic issues. Just working one-on-one is not enough, yes, you can help each person individually, but the system's still there. It's not either or, it's both. We've gotta be working at both levels. Maybe not everybody is working at both levels. But people definitely get caught up in those.
Yes, we gotta do it. Market, yes, we gotta do it. Geography or no. but what is that method of looking at what are the values, but what are the benefits of each side? And then what are the pitfalls? And then trying to maximize the benefit on both sides and be mindful of the pitfalls.
But so often in cultures. The classic one that people are talking about and you're talking about right in, in this model is. The US culture and western culture has tended to be so over-indexed on individualism that the relational piece is missing. And so how do we, and it's not that we completely go to the other side.
Carol: It's that we, how do we find some balance between the two, which is always the most challenging,
Mala: Always the most challenging, always the most challenging. And one of the things that comes back to the question of the process that we use, one of the last things we build out for organizations is a calculator that actually allows people to do some what if scenarios. We're encouraging people to pay people a thriving wage rather than just a minimum wage or a living wage. And so like how do you, you actually test that with your budget? We give a calculator where you can set your base number and set your different compensation factors, how much money you're giving to each factor. And that allows based on the way that we are doing our system with the levels and stuff, to try different forms, try different amounts to get within the budget that you have. And if you can't hit a thriving wage for everyone this go around. We're encouraging organizations not to lift the ceiling until they bring people up to a thriving wage.
Carol: Can you describe what's the difference between a living wage and a thriving wage?
Mala: I use the MIT living wage calculator as a base. There's other cost of living calculators, but the MIT living wage calculator is an alternative to poverty wage. It's saying, how much do you have to actually earn to live in this place? But they're only looking at the necessities.
if you're targeting your pay level. To what one individual no children are at in the MIT calculator. For a given geography, you're actually only getting them the bare necessities. And so if there's one car accident, one car repair or some major medical issue that is gonna put your employee in An avalanche of financial strain and thriving wages. We're using, I think it comes from Elizabeth Warren, but there's a 50, 30, 20% budgeting rule. And the budgeting rule is 50% towards your necessities. 30% towards your just discretionary needs, and then 20% towards savings and retirement. Well, if from the MIT living wage calculator that for some particular area, it's $16 to meet the necessities. You can plug that number into the 50% and then figure out what the thriving wage looks like, at least around to get an approximation, to get us above water, to get all the employees working with some financial breathing space.
Carol: That's so huge because when I was a single mom and not making a lot of money, those, one-time things. That pretty much happened every third month. Oh my goodness. They threw such a curve ball into everything every time. And so I actually have an item in our personal family budget that is one time items.
And so I've been tracking for years how much that is, how much you need to budget for those, unexpected quote unquote things that you can completely expect to happen.
Mala: I love
Mala: I love that. I love that. There is a great Hidden Brain episode on something like that around the money and You episodes where they talk about like budgeting for the not budgeting for the unexpected expenses, but then recognizing that actually that unexpected expenses happen every year or every,
Carol: You just don't know when they're gonna
Mala: You don't know when
Carol: I dunno when the heater's gonna break or the washing machine's gonna break, but it's gonna break at some point.
Mala: And also if you want your, so there's the expenditures that are really critical for your daily operation, just being able to operate in your life, But there's also the money that you might need for relationship building. Like you want to buy your kids some books or take them to the library or get a special gift for your 16th birthday. So that's why we're shooting for the two times living wage as an estimate to get to 1.5 to two point the living wage as a thriving wage number.
Carol: And that being your base wage.
Mala: It doesn't have to be. Because usually it's a little bit tricky.
I, I'm not gonna say it's a little
Carol: a hundred percent, but.
Mala: not a hundred percent, but the lowest wage in the organization should be above that. And assuming that everybody has responsibilities that get tracked on the differential part of the scale, then It would be a little bit more than base wage. .
Carol: You talked at one point about, and I'm imagining some chart. This sounds like it can get really nitty gritty in terms of you have a zero, you have all these skills, competencies. But you used a different word for those compensation factors, which was so beyond what is typical, right, of what I just named all those different things named and then defining a 0 1, 2, 3, 4, I don't know how many, how high you go for, for what the different levels are for those.
And I would imagine that gets really granular, but at the same time. just be really eye opening for folks to what it actually takes to do each job.
Mala: It is. I would say that skills and competencies are actually part of why sometimes organizations will lift it out specifically, but we don't embed it in.
I think one of the things in our system is like, they look at how many years of school you need in order to get a job, and then that means you get more pay. In this system we don't make any assumptions. Let folks decide where they wanna put value and why. And so that they come together with some reasoning. So it's
Carol: What might somebody put value to that wouldn't show, we wouldn't show up in a typical scenario or a typical compensation process.
Mala:. I would say the majority of the compensation factors that we end up using for organizations are areas of responsibility. It's like where are people holding the work that the organization has to do in order to meet its mission? And it's functional. It's not positional.
Every position gets scored on every single area of responsibility. Some of those areas of responsibility are functional areas, could be leadership. Project management supervision. It could be fundraising, finance, program communications and external relations. It could be the unseen undervalued labor, like emotional labor, relational labor, JEDI work.
The work that people are doing to increase equity and justice within the organization or externally apply it to the work, the programming work that they're doing. There's a lot of different categories that they could pick from. There's also working conditions. When you have to, some positions have to be on 24/7. They have to be on call or there might be a category sometimes we use called that's about the level of vulnerability that you have in your work. If you have to stay in the front desk and you have to stay seated the whole time that can cause physical harm to you. You're vulnerable in that sense.
Or you might be exposed to blood if you work in a hospital or a health clinic and you're drawing blood from folks. It could be that you're. Community is being targeted for violence, and you are out there and you're the face of the organization. There's different things that can go into it.
It is pretty super granular, so we don't encourage really small organizations to use it wholesale, draw from it what is most important but at the end of the day. It tends to be best for organizations between 15 and 50 people. We have a couple of larger organizations that are interested in implementing it, and we're excited about figuring out how to do that well. But ultimately it's really about being much more transparent about what we're valuing and being able to right size the value of things that are overvalued in the market.
Mala: increase the value of things that are undervalued in the market.
Carol:. What things that help organizations be successful in this process?
Mala:. We have a set of conditions that we call conditions for readiness. I think the first thing is make sure your job descriptions are up to date. 'cause that is really important.
Carol: And that can, that can be a hurdle for a lot of organizations.
Mala: It can be. It is. And,you hit it right on the spot. There the conditions for readiness cover logistical conditions that are like job descriptions, making sure that you actually have fiscal health. 'cause if you're struggling for fundraising or budgeting, this is not the time to work on equity in the compensation system in this way. And then there are socio psychological conditions, which are around, can you have a conversation around the grief and trauma about money, trauma of money. There's growing research that the financial trauma that our ancestors and can transfer intergenerationally and so How we grew up affects how we're actually making decisions in the organization. We need to separate that out. Like, understand what is our personal trauma versus, and our personal fear around money, and how are we bringing that into the workplace?
What is good for the organization, what is not good for the organization? And then I'm forgetting the, the, the second, there's three sets, and I'm forgetting this third set, I think it's on our website.
Carol: Well, we'll put links to a lot of those things that you have in your signature so that people have all those resources that you make, that you very generously make available. So on each episode, I like to close out by asking each guest what permission slip would you give nonprofit leaders, or what would you invite them to consider to avoid being a martyr to the cause and as they work to cultivate a healthy organizational culture.
So either a permission slip or an invitation or both to nonprofit leaders.
Mala: Two things. I think one is: Understand your position with risk, regard to risk and understand if you're risk averse or risk taking. And understand what that impact is. Do you need to scale back a little bit on the risk taking? Do you need to increase your risk taking and understand where you are and what the organization needs based on its lifecycle and stuff?
The second is not every law is equal and the ramifications of laws are not all equal. And so sometimes we don't take risks because we're worried about legal liability. But the legal liability is a probability. If this happens, this happens, this happens, this happens, and this happens. And if we do it in this way, this way, and this way. But if you're not doing it in this way, in this way, and it's not, all these conditions don't meet, then you can actually take a risk that is not gonna be as harmful to the organization. Now, as an HR professional, I can never tell someone to not follow the law.
I'm not saying break the law. What I'm saying is that some laws have greater risks. So as an organizational leader, they can decide how they wanna approach that risk in a different way.
Carol: I feel like for a lot of people, the fear of the unknown on all those HR issues, tends to mean that people wanna be more risk averse. And then, that fear of doing it wrong will mean that, well we can't change any of this 'cause, we're tied in by the law. But what you're saying is there's more flexibility there than they might think.
Carol: All right. Well thank you so much. This was, so I learned a lot and I'll be excited to put all those links in so that people can access all those resources that you have on this really innovative model that you're working with to help organizations think differently about how they structure their compensation for their staff, which is just so fundamental.
Mala:. Thank you Carol, for the opportunity to talk to your audience and to have a conversation with you. It was really nice. Thank you.
I am Carol Hamilton, nonprofit consultant and podcast host. My passion is helping organizations cultivate healthy, inclusive cultures that live their values, fostering learning, creativity and results. Find me at Grace Social Sector Consulting and download free resources.
Grace Social Sector Consulting, LLC, owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of the Mission: Impact podcast, with all rights reserved, including right of publicity.