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So, how might we? How might we use the data available in the Open Salary Spreadsheet for negotiation purposes? It's the question driving many of us when we look at what's arrayed before us. What can we learn that will help us to negotiate better as employees...or what will help employers navigate this process, too?

First, let's think about what a negotiation is. We employ a combination of definitions, ranging from Fisher, Ury & Paten (1991)'s Getting to Yes (always a favorite) to contemporary (21st century!) definitions like Honeyman & Kupfer Schneider, eds., found in their excellent The Negotiator's Handbook (2017).

We understand negotiation to be a conversation, discussion or dialogue between two or more individuals or parties that is intended to reach a beneficial outcome. We don't start from the place of--or the assumption of--negativity. In general, negotiation begins where a challenge exists over one or more issues, and is an interactive process that engages compromise, to resolve points of difference, mutual benefit and mutual interest. As in, yes, it's a challenge, but not a fight, and we want to envision the hard work of negotiation as being mutually beneficial, and good for us all. We know that it isn't always clear or cut and dried, and in some instances, positions are offered and concessions are made in order to reach a final agreement.

So in this definition, we appreciate that we might bring many tools to bear on the negotiation process, including expertise, experience, relationships, empathy, and skill. We also know that data is vital in the negotiation process: we must know what kind of data is needed, where to find it, and how to harvest it, so that when the time comes to use it, we have the right data collection that will benefit our negotiation. The Open Salary Spreadsheet is one tool among many that we might use for negotiation purposes, to gather data about salary and benefits, as employees seek to benchmark their salaries and benefits and analyze their corner of the field or the field as a whole. Many others exist, from one-on-one conversations to formal organizational reports to government data.

We believe that effective salary negotiations include benchmarking salary by gathering a number of data points for comparison. The OSS helps to take the hard work out of some of that research, by offering a space in which negotiators can gather information in the aggregate at the beginning of their process. This is one place to stop on the road to collecting data about salaries.

However, note that the OSS should not replace talking to people about their salaries. We still and always will recommend the person-to-person interactions that allow us to be in conversation about salary and the brave work of asking people what they make. This conversation will offer more than just salary insights, of course, and the experience of asking helps each of us to rise and helps us to model difficult conversations so that we can all rise. Again, this is one tool that can help you to begin those conversations. Consider language like “I noticed in the Open Salary Spreadsheet that…..” or “I wonder if you can tell me about how your salary and benefits compare to what I learned from the Open Salary Spreadsheet.” Consider what you see here the beginning of (or an invitation to) a conversation. This data becomes richer when you can match it with more, from your specific corner of the field and from the conversations and research that you will continue to do.

Know that you can relax (a bit). The experience of negotiation can be a challenge and when we are in the midst of the process, we often feel anxious and unsure about how to proceed. When information is kept private or obscured, employees may feel increasingly anxious about how difficult it is to get accurate data. With this resource, you have the opportunity to lean on the contributions of anonymous colleagues across the field whose shared data supports you as you negotiate. This act of radical transparency is a gift that others are giving you--and we invite you to consider its value and how you might want to contribute yourself.

If you need support with your negotiations in addition to collecting data from our Open Salary Spreadsheet, or would like to learn more about how to use this data in your negotiation, please be in touch with us. The Gender Equity in Hiring Project offers a variety of different negotiation supports, from our Ask For It Negotiation Workshops to one on one negotiation coaching (one time or packages available) to resume, cover letter and interview support. We're here for you, to make sense of this data and make sure that you know how to use it most effectively.

Share your data here:

Learn more about the OSS and our Whys here:

Be in touch!

Over the last number of years, GEiHP received regular inquiries about the original Open Salary Spreadsheet, often more than 100 a month. Folks consistently asked for updates, recognizing that the landscape of the job search, salary benchmarking and analysis, and the experience of salary negotiation had changed substantially, even if base salaries had not significantly changed.

Due to this continued interest, we undertook preliminary conversations about the possibility of adding to or expanding the OSS so that it might serve more users. However, given what we learned in our initial 2019 experiment, we wanted to approach this deliberately and with the necessary care and intention that would result in a better quality product, more thoughtfully aligned with our organizational values.

In the summer of 2022, six open focus groups and ten user interviews, engaging more than 50 current and past spreadsheet users, were convened. Participants were queried about what they felt was missing from the original data collection, what might be added, what they hoped to learn in the next iteration of the spreadsheet, and what kind of data they needed. We included more than 20 additional interviews and small group conversations to build on what we learned and help to shape our design. This data was used to shape and map a new survey, which provides the appropriate inputs for our new Open Salary Spreadsheet.

Listening to our users, both our contributors and those using the data, helped us to determine what to include and what felt less urgent. For example, we recognized that in our original 2019 experiment, we did not get the specific location and geographic information that folks needed and wanted, in part because we allowed participants to self-describe their geographic location entirely. Now we strive to refine this properly, and we know that we’re closer to “correct,” but still are certain we leave some folks out. We have defined geography both by where each contributor is located as well as where their workplaces and employers are located, and also include relevant geographic data sorted by region and city/community size. This example helps us to clarify and draw more effective boundaries without compromising our contributors’ anonymity. Our current data collection strives to balance the shifting state of the Jewish workplace and our larger communal ecosystem, as well as changing understandings about the world of work and learning from other similar data collections.

Gathering and inputting new data was an important component of our work, and we hope to eliminate some of the glitches in our original data collection. We have selected AirTable, because it enables us improved flexibility for data collection, an opportunity to update content immediately, a maximum level of data protection and anonymity, and a user-friendly design that enables a better user experience. Sure, we could use a true “open spreadsheet,” but this would be harder to design, less user-friendly, and more easily open to breaches or accidental edits by others. To add one’s data, contributors to our 2023 and beyond data collection will complete an anonymous AirTable survey linked to a spreadsheet that will immediately update with new data.

Sure, no one tool is perfect. No one way of doing this is easiest or will provide the perfect level of anonymity. And we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way.

Until the last moment, for example, we continued to edit our language for Jewish, ethnic, gender and racial identities, as we are continuing to learn and wanted to make sure that we included as many as possible in our proverbial tent.

Another important adjustment and learning for us was the shift to “self-describe” over “prefer to self-describe,” acknowledging that when folks self-describe, they are not “preferring,” or choosing their description. They just are that person, and they want to identify as such without having to prefer it. Note that all language in this survey includes “self-describe,” to make room for anyone and everyone to include their identification, but not to have to “prefer” it. This is with regard to pronouns (20), for example, but also for the description of your department (2) or organization (29), too.

If you have specific questions about how our survey was constructed or would like to help us reflect on the questions we’ve asked for next time or for future edits, please be in touch. This is an important learning opportunity for us and we relish the opportunity to be in conversation with others as we continue to develop this tool and learn from you.

Share your data here:

Learn more about the OSS and our Whys here:

Be in touch!

Now that many states and localities are recruiting salary transparency in job postings (thank you, Colorado, California and New York!), we are seeing a radical shift in conversations about salary across the board. We know that there is a natural and inevitable disruption in some spaces, in parts of our professional community, and in some specific organizations, as some employees find out they are being paid differently less than others who are doing the same or similar work. We also know that it’s equally challenging to initiate conversations at the organizational level when we may not have allocated the time or the resources to tackle questions of compensation, yet. The time has come to hold each other–and our employers–accountable and provide the resources for those who are ready to have honest, transparent conversations about salary and how pay is structured, as we are moving toward equity across our Jewish workplaces. Salary transparency requires steps toward real and authentic transparency. We invite you to talk about this with your colleagues, even when it is hard.

If you are excited about this effort, and eager to invite other folks to participate and contribute their data, we invite you to do so. We are better for the participation of a broad cross-section of our community, and our work becomes that much more equitable. We know that lots of questions will come up--and even more so, that folks may look to you as a resource and ask questions of you. If you are interested in inviting your colleagues to participate, here are some recommendations for language that you can use to help encourage others to take part.

  1. Are you familiar with the Gender Equity in Hiring Project’s Open Salary Spreadsheet? If not, I’d love to tell you more.

  2. If you’re interested in benchmarking your salary, the Open Salary Spreadsheet might be a good place to start.

  3. Have you considered contributing your data? By doing so, you’re making it possible for others to learn about what’s fair across the field, and to make their own asks as they negotiate.

  4. Have you considered contributing your data? When you do, you can then easily access others’ data, and benchmark yours against theirs.

  5. It’s so exciting that you contributed the last time. Have you contributed to the newest version? If you contribute, then you’ll make it possible for others to learn from your data….they will have the chance to rise along with you.

If you know that folks are reticent about contributing, and want to wonder with them about the implications of participating, here are some recommendations for language that might be helpful as you share why participation might be useful. They may have questions, or be confused about how this might benefit them. You might wonder on your own, with a colleague or a group of colleagues in community.

  1. Are you familiar with the Gender Equity in Hiring Project’s Open Salary Spreadsheet? I’d be glad to share more.

  2. You might already be familiar with the Open Salary Spreadsheet from the initial experiment a few years ago–it is so exciting that you contributed the last time. Your data will be such an important addition to this new collection.

  3. Have you ever struggled to benchmark or analyze your salary, or find colleagues to talk to about your salary? What was that like?

  4. Why might benchmarking salary this way might be a good place to start?

  5. What’s the value of transparency when it comes to salary? How might you–or others– benefit?

  6. Something about this makes me feel uncomfortable. How might we try to understand that discomfort and work around it? Where is this productive discomfort, and what can we learn from it?

  7. What here benefits me? What might I overcome in order to participate?

  8. What might I overcome in order to help support others? What do I need to support others?

What other resources do you need?

How else can we help?

Our role is to support our community in having the challenging conversations that lead us to changes in culture, that lead us toward equity, and that empower each of us to do that hard work of moving toward bold action one tiny step at a time. We know that it’s hard to convince others. It’s especially difficult when it’s hard to imagine the benefits. One of our goals is to invite our colleagues across the Jewish community to be a part of our efforts at transparency, both inside our organizations and in our conversations and relationships. While we also seek those shifts toward transparency, and we believe that knowledge and data will help us move toward that change, we also know that we can imagine change together by asking questions, considering how transparency benefits us, and taking small and bold actions toward that future we seek.

Share your data here:

Learn more about the OSS and our Whys here:

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