COMPFERENCE19 DAY ONE WRAP UP: The Importance of Stories, Don’t Stay in Your Lane, Minding the Gaps

A record setting 636 comp pros and HR leaders were in attendance today for a rousing kickoff of Compference19!  Today’s sessions included three keynote presentations, various product demos, and a number of breakout sessions. Here are some highlights from the first day. 

Opening Keynote: The Importance of Stories

Emily Jensen, PayScale’s Chief Customer Officer, explained the theme and helped set the tone for Compference19. 

Many of us have nostalgic memories of going away to summer camp as a kid. For some, it may have even been the first overnight visit away from home. Even the most adventurous among us might have experienced nervousness and trepidation. However, that would eventually give way to feelings of excitement and wonder. Learning new skills and making new lifelong friends were the rewards for letting go of those fears. 

Similarly, Emily presented Compference as an opportunity to step away from the day to day, and to step outside of one’s comfort zone. With 636 attendees, there are 635 opportunities to learn about other people’s comp stories. 

And stories are an integral part of making employees feel valued. 

Sadly, only one in five employees believe they are fairly paid. And that is why the story matters. 100 percent of these people are getting paid, but only 22 percent believe it’s right. That is the importance and power of how we craft our company’s pay story.

Emily, a 13 year PayScale employee, then introduced Scott Torrey, with 13 days of experience as PayScale’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Scott talked about his background. Having lived in London for the past seven years, Scott has a keen understanding of the opportunities and challenges of living in another culture. He told the audience a story about his experience in Hong Kong, and trying to launch a new office opening. 

He was issued a challenge by his local colleagues. He was to acquire a list of common, everyday items. However, he had to do so without using his wallet or his personal mobile phone. Instead, he was given a mobile phone, featuring technology based on a local carrier. For him, the exercise underscored the importance, especially as a newcomer, of understanding and respecting the needs, desires and limitations of the local culture. Instead of a domineering, colonial manner, he approached the situation with respect and a desire to learn. 


Don’t Stay in Your Lane: Bringing Strategic Thought to Basic Reporting

Emily Brown, Managing Director of Global Compensation at FedEx described how her impressive, yet seemingly divergent career path taught her the importance of not staying in one’s lane. 

By nature, FedEx employees, particularly their drivers, are required to quite literally follow the rules of the road. When it came to compensation, the company had always stuck to a rigid, unyielding system that was applied uniformly across the country. As Emily soon discovered, having such a narrow view of compensation wasn’t going to meet the needs of the company’s myriad geographic locations. 

Not one to be limited by “traditional methods” she posited two powerful mantras: 

  • “Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules.”
  • “Sometimes there are no rules.”

In other words, sometimes you have to try new things. 

Emily offered three best practices for breaking through barriers.

  1. Take a Stand

She found that her team was spending so much time looking at data, that there was no time left to make a recommendation based on the data. This is especially important when presenting to executives. They have even less time to look at data, and will depend on your expertise to make recommendations.

Additionally she predicated that jobs pulling data will eventually be made obsolete by automation. However, jobs that require actual analysis are less likely to be automated. 

  1. Tell the Story

A study by Stanford estimates that a mere five percent of people remember facts. However, 65 percent remember a story. That’s because stories resonate with people. 

Consider the following questions:

  • What is the soul behind your data?
  • Who depends on your to tell their story?
  • Are you fighting for and activley telling the stories of your employees?
  1. Expand Your Network

Remember to focus your recommendation based on stories, not simply the numbers. Eventually, that will help your executive leadership believe in your numbers, which ultimately will help build your credibility.

However, it’s not just the leadership you need to convince. You also need to get support from multiple teams, such as legal, core HR, security, IT, front line employees and so on. You must get buy-in from all those groups. Work to understand groups and seek to discover what their different challenges are. 

Minding the Gap(s) – Using Technology to Drive Change

Meggie Palmer, Diversity and Inclusion Speaker, Journalist and Entrepreneur helps spark confidence and motivation with her audiences. She spoke about her mission to close the gender pay gap. 

The pay gap starts at a shockingly young age, and it starts at home. A study revealed that little girls earn 33 percent less allowance than boys do. The rationale is that boys do more physically strenuous chores. However, this leads parents to perpetuate wage gaps with their own children. 

Unfortunately, these trends follow through to adulthood. A woman takes home just 79¢ for every dollar a man makes. Regardless of skill level, whether food servers or doctors, women get paid less. The reasons include discriminlation and unconscious bias. But what can be done about it? 

Meggie focused on three important things that exist in society, in the workplace and within individuals:

  • The Reality Gap 
  • The Ownership Gap
  • The Value Gap

The Reality Gap

Often in life, there can be a huge difference between what you think will happen and what actually happens. 

She asked the audience to consider the following questions:

  • Does everyone see the value of your work the way you see it?
  • What is the gap between what you contribute and what people think you contribute?

Computers are something we take for granted in everyday life. However, today the name Aida Lovelace remains a mystery to many. A gifted mathematician, Ada Lovelace was considered to have the first computer programmer, way back in the mid-1800s.

Often misperceptions are caused by mainstream media. We can see it as unfair; or we can see it as an opportunity. 

Meggie challenged the audience to think about what are the gaps in the perception of our HR  vs reality? It’s crucial to bridge the gap between what you do and the perception of what you do. If you don’t change the perception, who will?

The Ownership Gap

In 1962 a woman in England named Stephanie Shirley was at the height of her career. However, due to prevailing cultural norms at the time, she was expected to quit her job once she married. Instead of simply giving up a career she was passionate about, she quit her job, then decided to start her own computer programming business. 

However, in the 1960s no one wanted to do business with Stephanie Shirley. So, she changed her name to “Steve.” Eventually she became a billionaire. 

Shirley wasn’t passively reactive. She didn’t wait. Instead, she “owned it” by taking matters into her own hands, and changing the situation. 

The Value Gap

Many experience impostor syndrome. Perhaps we don’t see the value in our work. Or maybe don’t think our work has value at all. 

Meggie talked about an app she helped found, PepTalkHer. It empowers professional, aspirational, women to know and negotiate their value. Using push notifications, it helps users reflect on their wins in the workplace on a regular basis. It’s a constant recurring reminder that you’re adding value and contributing to the bottom line. 

More Tomorrow

That’s a wrap on day one of Compference19. More great learnings and discoveries to come tomorrow.