[Part 1] Gender Pay Gap at Applied: How to get your company’s gender pay gap on track to 0

Published by:
Cameo Choquer
December 21, 2020
min read

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Collecting data is incredibly important to examine how inequality is perpetuated and how it can change. We’ve observed a few things about our own gender pay gap and in this post we’d like to dig into the state of things, what the gender pay gap is at Applied and how focusing on hiring can help companies to work towards being more inclusive. 

“The gender pay gap is calculated as the difference between average hourly earnings (excluding overtime) of men and women as a proportion of men’s average hourly earnings (excluding overtime). It is a measure across all jobs in the UK, not of the difference in pay between men and women for doing the same job.” ONS

This year, over 2 million women have left the workforce due to COVID-19 in the United States alone. 

UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia commented to the BBC that the pandemic could be setting women back by 25 years.

1 in 4 women are considering leaving the workforce altogether due to the mounting pressure of work-life balance. 

In an interview series by The Washington Post, one woman described how she was given unrealistic expectations and KPIs that were never required of her prior to working remotely. She later quit turning to part-time consulting work - a decision many women are grappling with. 

We take the numbers above pretty seriously - Applied has a vested interest in making the workforce fairer for everyone, regardless of a pandemic. 

We’re also a bit fanatical about tracking data and information to inform better decision making and getting the full story. Many start-ups don’t track their gender pay gap - in the UK, companies who have less than 250 employees aren’t required to. 

The official reporting for companies with over 250 employees was also something that the UK Government’s equalities office suspended this year due to the pandemic, so the results of how women were affected will not be captured as normal. 

The good news is that the future of work is changing. While many have left the workforce either by their own volition or not, the great rehiring will be defined by transferable skills, flexibility, and multitasking. 

Companies are being forced to reflect and reassess how they’ve been operating and we think that upgrading hiring processes will have a huge impact on how companies scale post-pandemic. Small companies planning to grow to 250 and beyond, can (and should) start the habit of tracking their salaries and hiring practices from the start so they can react and improve before a gap even develops. 

 People are more influenced by their peers than by their leaders. This means that when millions of women leave the workforce there is not just a salary gap but a perspective gap. 

We think the future of work is where companies think about the makeup of their company at the point of entry through their hiring process. 

Below you’ll find hiring techniques that will enable you to attract and hire more women.

A few things we know that work

Track job boards at the sourcing stage

We only use job boards that work. We look at what job boards have worked best to bring in the best candidates, experiment with others, iterate, and repeat. This way, our operations team is able to run lean, and only spend money on what works for recruiting the best people. Our sourcing page also lets us know if the job board attracts equally - meaning we get the same number of men as women from a job board. When we don’t, it is a good clue to how we should change our job posts or boards. 

Make sure your job spec is inclusive

We start by tracking our hiring process right from the start: we focus on writing progressive job descriptions that are welcoming to women. 

Our text analysis tool tells us if too many of our words are gendered or jargon. By changing the language of job descriptions, companies like Applied can improve their brand and hiring funnel. Job specs are a window into how companies operate and should be taken pretty seriously (we can’t count the number of posts we see on LinkedIn tearing apart poor job ads). 

Check out our Text Analysis Tool here.

Sifting applications

More and more companies are catching on to how hiring impacts the gender pay gap. BuiltinNYC, a job board in the US, did a stellar blog earlier this year on the gender pay gap. In its post, they clarified that “While college degrees are certainly helpful tools for advancing academic knowledge base before entering into full-time career, it shouldn’t be a major factor employers consider when reviewing job applicants.” As we’ve learned, education is not a great predictor of on the job performance. If you’re a company in the US that requires candidates to have a college degree, you’re missing out on 40% of the job pool. 

Applied assessment vs CV

At Applied we index on work sample questions - the main aspect of our hiring process is the sift. 

It is where we ask candidates work sample questions instead of looking at their CV. When starting an application at Applied, you’ll never be asked a “tell me a time when…” question - it’s outdated and the responses are difficult to score because they’re so inconsistent. 

So, what is the top sift question used at Applied? It has to do with prioritization. We’re a fast moving SaaS start-up that needs to be able to have razor focus on when and what to deliver. If it is Friday afternoon and you have 5 things to do, which 2 are you going to get done and why? It was my favourite question to answer and is my favourite question to score - it asks little and so much all at the same time and gives a really clear picture of how someone thinks, how they manage their time, and what they think is the best problem to tackle. 

Gender pay gap at Applied

Now that you’ve learned a bit about our hiring process we can get into more observations we’ve had about the other factors at play affecting Applied’s gender pay gap. The data never tells the full story so here it is: this year Applied’s gender pay gap is -3%. As we are a small company it is bound to fluctuate but a lot of it has to do with our hiring process, followed by our structured progression framework and benchmarking (along with some external factors at play).

At Applied: 

  1. We’re a socially-minded and impact-driven company. We're a company that starts with values and an ethos of making products to be fundamentally useful and universal - we make this clear from the outset of our job descriptions and think that this has an impact on who applies and who doesn’t
  2. We hire without bias (we will fully admit that seeing cats in the background of zoom interviews may have a positive effect on some team members*). 
  3. We hire well - Our job specs go through the wringer and try to communicate what someone will be working on in their first 6 months so they get a tangible idea of how to hit the ground running. We pick our reviewing and interviewing panels so that they are gender-balanced. 
  4. Our engineering team is predominantly women
  5. Our board’s gender split is 50/50 
  6. Applied’s CEO is a woman
  7. Salaries are benchmarked and tied to our progression framework
  8. We post salaries on job descriptions (research shows that women are more likely to apply if you do)
  9. We don’t ask for CVs but instead use work sample questions to assess if candidates can actually do the job they are applying for, rather than indexing on education or experience (which research has shown to be poor predictors of on-the-job performance). 

This year has shown how the economy and workforce can be turned upside down. The nature of work is dramatically and rapidly changing, but how do we “build back better” as they say,  if we aren’t equipping ourselves with the knowledge and evidence to make it better for everyone

Not every company is like Applied, it is very rare to have a woman as a CEO, let alone a company with an engineering team predominately made up of women. 

However, we don’t think that companies with women on the board or women on the exec team are impervious to gender imbalance. This is why we focus on how we get people in the door in the first place - it makes a huge difference to how people feel about themselves and the company they end up working for. 

The second part of this blog will be reporting on a gender gap survey sent out to similar-sized companies - stay tuned. If you’re interested in taking part in the survey email Cameo@beapplied.com