Jason Nazar wants to discuss the one issue he says no one is comfortable discussing: Your salary.
How much money do you make? Is your salary significantly lower than the industry average? Where does your compensation rank you in your company?
Uncomfortable yet? That’s the point. Nazar, 37, says compensation is one of the most taboo topics of conversations in society. So he teamed up with three other serial tech entrepreneurs – George Ishii, Yadid Ramot, and Mike Sheridan – to create a company focused on extreme transparency.
Comparably, a platform that provides compensation data for public and private companies, launches today with $6.5 million in funding led by Crosslink Capital.
“The two things that are most on people’s minds when it comes to work are what kind of experience they are having at work and what they are getting paid for it,” says Nazar, whose first company, the business-document sharing service Docstoc, was acquired by Intuit (INTU) in 2013 and shut down this past December. “That’s where we think we can make work dramatically more transparent around compensation and culture.”
Here’s how Comparably works: users sign up for the anonymous service for free, enter their salary, and filter the data based on different variables. They can tailor the results based on their work experience, location and gender as well as the company’s size and stage. Nazar says other filters such as education, skills, ethnicity and age will be added to the tool later on.
Comparably also allows users to anonymously discuss compensation and culture with their colleagues or with peers in their industry. “Imagine it like the old ‘Secret’ product built into our platforms. You can have conversations that would otherwise be taboo and awkward,” Nazar says.
Nazar wants Comparably to become the leading resource for gender pay-gap data. And for the company, that data is key to generating revenue.
To make money, Comparably will sell the data to companies to show them how their employee base relates to the overall market and where they have discrepancies. The idea is to help them stay competitive.
“We’ll show companies their breakdown of gender versus the market – what are you paying male and female candidates versus the market, and how are your top 20 most valuable employees paid relative the market,” says Nazar. “If they’re underpaid and at the risk of getting poached, we’ll notify you to make sure that’s something you might want to address.”
Comparably acquires its data from four sources: Comparably users, publicly available documents, companies and recruiters. Though Nazar claims the user’s identity and private information is “under 100% lockdown,” there’s always a chance that a potential hack could land this sensitive data in the wrong hands.
“We have a lot of security measures in place,” Nazar says. “We don’t store people’s names. We even hash email addresses so that the people in our company don’t have access to them.”
Comparably joins a growing chorus of companies seeking to bring greater transparency to the workforce, some in more radical ways than others. Take for example five-year-old social media startup Buffer, which publishes all of its employees’ salaries on the web.
That particular approach may be too dramatic, Nazar says. “I’m not making the case of whether individual people’s salaries should be made public in a company, but there is no employee that does not want to know if she is being paid fairly relative to market. This may be a little uncomfortable for companies… but the best companies are at the forefront of these issues.”