How FoodShare Implemented Pay Transparency

In April 2017, Paul Taylor He was named CEO of FoodShare, a Toronto nonprofit that hosts community markets, sells boxes of affordable produce, and runs school nutrition programs. One day, Taylor asked one of her colleagues what food justice meant to her. “She said, ‘Food justice means having a decent job,'” recalls Taylor. The comment hurt: At the time, the lowest-earning FoodShare workers were being paid the minimum wage. “We were supporting communities that had become vulnerable,” he says, “but we were doing it at the expense of workers who were also vulnerable.”

When Taylor joined the organization, FoodShare had a pay grid, but it was inconsistently enforced and not accessible to employees. “It was not clear to me that people were being compensated on the principle of equal pay for equal work,” says Taylor. He sat down with his senior leadership team, and by July 2018, they had implemented some significant changes to their payment schedules.

A portrait of FoodShare CEO Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor (Photograph by Stacey Newman)

First, they created a transparent pay grid and increased the wages of people at the bottom by 25 percent. “Employees can see what we make up for in various roles at various levels,” explains Taylor. The organization was able to pay for the salary increases by amplifying its fundraising efforts and boosting the sales of its product boxes. He also completely rejected salary negotiations, sticking to the salaries set out on the grid. “Opaque wage negotiations do racialized people a disservice, especially racialized women,” says Taylor. According to University of Virginia dataWhen black applicants negotiate higher wages, employers often perceive them as more aggressive than white applicants who made the same applications.

“People want to work in an organization that reflects their values”

Another change was the introduction of a ratio system, which ensures that the highest paid worker on FoodShare earns a maximum of three times than the lowest paid worker. “We were talking about the effect that growing income inequality has on food insecurity, but we are perpetuating it ourselves. It seemed insincere, “says Taylor.

The changes have been tremendously effective, he says: there is less turnover, less need for hiring, and less time and energy to fill vacant positions. The caliber and quality of job candidates have also improved. “People want to work in an organization that reflects their values,” he says. Since implementing these policies, FoodShare staff has grown from 60 full-time equivalent employees in 2018 to more than 100 in 2021, and its annual revenue has grown from $ 6.4 million in 2018 to $ 10.7 million in 2020. .

Taylor argues that salary transparency should be extended to the corporate world, but believes that most executives and business owners are too concerned about profits to act on their own. Instead, he says, we need government mandates that force companies to update their policies. In the meantime, he has continued to foster pay transparency in the nonprofit ecosystem. In June 2021, FoodShare sent an open letter to the nonprofit Charity Village job board asking that it make compensation information mandatory for all job openings posted on its website. Since then, more than 90 organizations have signed the letter, including Greenpeace Canada and Doctors Without Borders.

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