Pay Transparency Examples: Buffer, BBC, & Grant Tree Insights

Published by:
Rebecca Noori
February 1, 2024
min read

As the new year begins, it's a good time to look into how companies handle pay transparency. But it's not just about the companies themselves—it's equally important for people seeking new jobs.

Picture yourself diving into the job market as the year kicks off. You're not just on the lookout for exciting opportunities; fair pay matters too.

When it comes to how companies share salary information, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Different organisations have their own ways of being transparent about pay. 

Let's look at three real examples—Buffer, BBC, and Grant Tree—to see how they handle this important issue.


Social media marketing company Buffer has an enviable gender pay gap of just 0.4%, significantly lower than the average 12% gap in tech. Buffer achieves this by prioritising transparency as one of the company's core values. Since 2013, Buffer has shared its employee salary formula using the following data: 

  • An average salary for your role benchmarked at 50% of San Francisco's market data
  • The cost of living in your home location 

Multiplying these figures together calculates your salary. Buffer also provides a handy salary calculator on its website to demonstrate how much you'll earn at the company. 

Buffer Salary Calculator results for a software engineer role based in SF

Going one step further, Buffer also publishes specific salary details about each employee, including their role title and location for context.

For example, Engineering Manager Gabi in Amsterdam, Netherlands, earns $183,508 (£144,855), while Engineering Manager Carlos, who lives in Madrid, Spain, earns $164,749 (£130,047). The data also shows that CEO Joel is the highest-earning employee at $298,958 (£235,922), living in Boulder, Colorado, US. 


In 2018, more than 250 BBC staff, including stars like Naga Munchetty and Victoria Derbyshire, challenged the British Broadcasting Corporation to tackle pay inequality by publishing the individual salaries and benefits of all staff. An open letter to the BBC director general requested, 

"Transparency about what everyone earns, about how pay is decided, and also about promotion and recruitment across all areas of the corporation. It's the fastest, cheapest, fairest way to begin to tackle unequal pay at the BBC."

In response, the BBC now publishes individual salaries over a threshold of £178k in an annual report, with Match of the Day and BBC World Cup presenter Gary Lineker topping the list at £1.35m, and Radio 2 breakfast host Zoe Ball in second place, earning £980k. 

Critics of the BBC's approach to transparency note that the list doesn't include other high-paying on-screen stars, whose shows are run by an external company, BBC Studios. 

However, BBC Studios offers its own annual pay gap report, which details the following: 

  • Gender pay gap of 9.6% 
  • Ethnicity pay gap of 7.4% 
  • Disability pay gap of 9.3% 
  • LGBTQ+ pay gap of 18.5% 

Grant Tree 

Grant Tree, an organisation that helps businesses access government funding, was one of the first UK businesses to prioritise pay transparency since its launch in 2010. Its approach includes: 

  • Sharing salary information among employees
  • Providing clear information about how salaries are calculated 
  • Including a pay self-assessment process 

Zooming in on this last point, pay self-assessment is an unusual approach, best explained by Grant Tree employee Cecilia Manduca who awarded herself a £7k pay rise after a series of conversations with colleagues. 

The process begins by Grant Tree collating data about average pay levels for external employees in similar roles.

They then reveal how much they can afford to pay the employee, and how much they believe the employee has grown since they started in the role. Cecilia explains, 

“Based on this data you make a proposal that is reviewed by colleagues. This is quite important, because colleagues are not there to say yes or no, or to approve it. They are there to ask questions and give you some feedback. After that feedback the employee decides on a figure. The key point is that nobody has to prove it; once you make a decision that pay now happens,"

These stories show us that there's no single right way to be open about salaries. Companies like Buffer, BBC, and Grant Tree all demonstrate different pay transparency approaches.

Buffer leads the way with clear formulas and individual details, while the BBC faces challenges with exclusions in their transparency efforts. Grant Tree takes a unique approach by letting employees play a role in deciding their pay.

Understanding these approaches helps us see the importance of fairness in pay and how companies can build trust by being transparent.

As companies keep finding better ways to share salary information, the goal of fairness and openness in pay remains crucial for happy and fair workplaces.