This blog post was guest authored by Claire Gray, Vice President, Human Resources Compensation at Cisco.
In 1979, Sally Field won an Oscar for her portrayal of a woman who fights for equality and justice for workers in a cotton mill in the movie Norma Rae. Although I was a young teenager at the time, I still remember how inspired I was by her courage and passion for fairness. The inspiration lingered and, as odd as it sounds, gave me the idea to pursue human resources as I researched where to go to college and ultimately my chosen profession.
In 2022, there is still opportunity for greater fairness in all workplaces, and I am honored to be part of Cisco’s effort to ensure fairness for our employees. As the head of compensation at Cisco, I am dedicated to pursuing fairness in pay for our employees globally.
Our Journey to Address Pay Fairness
At Cisco, we started our formal pay fairness journey in 2016. Our first steps recognized that ensuring pay is fair isn’t a once-and-done task to complete. Because workforces are dynamic—employees grow in their careers, people move in and out of jobs, new positions are created, groups are reorganized—the work of evaluating pay fairness is never done. Instead, it’s an ongoing process, and our job has been and will continue to be to create a robust system that continually evaluates and pursues fairness across the full spectrum of diversity.
When we announced our Social Justice Beliefs and 12 Actions in 2020, we committed to aggressively expand our approach to fair pay for all employees through Social Justice Action 3, Expand Pay Parity.
In addition to base salary, we now review promotions, stock grant values, and bonuses annually. We analyze data to see if there are differences between gender, race, and ethnicity. We look at equivalent or similar jobs, job grade levels, location, and other factors that impact pay.
In 2020 and 2021, we made fairness adjustments for both bonuses and stock grant values. For 2022, we included fairness reviews for promotion participation and stock grant participation.
“Ensuring pay is fair isn’t a once-and-done task to complete. It’s an ongoing process, and our job has been to create a robust system that continually pursues fairness.”
We are proud of the progress we have made. Our analysis shows the processes we have put in place have yielded an overall equitable compensation system. Within the pay elements we analyze, a small percentage of employees—typically 1-2%—receive adjustments for fairness. This is exactly the result we would expect in our dynamic and constantly changing organization: we won’t have perpetual perfection, but with our systemic equality only minor modifications are needed at any given point.
What Our Employees Tell Us
In response to our efforts, we hear from our employees and leaders that they appreciate our actions and knowing they work for a company that is committed to fair pay. They tell us that it drives greater job satisfaction and helps to retain top talent.
At the end of the day, knowing our employees and leaders are proud of the work we’re doing validates our mission and fuels us to continue to expand and continue to raise the bar on our commitments.
The Future of Pay Fairness
As we look ahead, we believe there will be increased attention on pay fairness and how it is measured in the US and around the globe. Current governmental metrics and requirements are focused on increasing transparency and reporting, a critical step in advancing accountability and leveling the playing field, but they don’t tell the whole story. Simplistic measures that are commonly used such as “82 cents on the dollar,” often cited for gender pay equity, can actually reduce accountability when used as a standalone metric.
At Cisco, we are focused on improving our processes to ensure pay fairness, such as increasing full-spectrum representation in all types of jobs at all levels of the organization. We can’t pay people fairly if we don’t have them on our team. And once we hire them, we’re committed to their growth and development—and their fair pay. This is the power of our social justice action plan; it brings together our entire ecosystem to ensure pay fairness is embedded and connected throughout our organization.
An Ongoing Commitment
It’s been more than 40 years since I watched Norma Rae fight for workers on the big screen. While it can be frustrating that we’re still on this journey, my resolve, passion, and optimism has only strengthened. I am proud of the great progress Cisco has made over the last several years, and I’m excited about the progress we will make in the years ahead.