Dan Price wants us to be more aggressive about equality
He cut his salary so his employees could have more and wants everyone to stop being so polite about money.
You only need to follow Dan Price on LinkedIn to know that this is a leader with perspective, conviction and productive compassion. He is someone who truly puts their money where their mouth is – so much so that in 2015, Dan cut his own salary by $1 million so he could start paying all employees a minimum salary of $70,000.
Ahead of his keynote at HR + L&D Innovation & Tech Fest, we asked Dan about his guiding principles, equality in pay negotiations and how HR leaders can keep executives accountable.
What inspired you to start Gravity Payments?
Dan Price: I started Gravity Payments from my dorm room at 19 years old. When I realised small businesses were being taken advantage of by credit card processors, I stepped in to try and change the industry. Gravity was founded on the principles of honesty, transparency, and responsibility.
What was the reaction when you announced that you were going to establish a $70,000 minimum wage at your company?
The first reaction was shock by my employees, and the media had differing reactions. Some praised the decision, many others claimed I was a socialist who would run my company into the ground. Six years later and we tripled our revenue, our employees started having 10x as many babies, and many people were able to pay down debt and even purchase their first homes. When people are given a chance to not have to worry about how they’re going to pay rent, they’re able to not only focus more on their work, they’re able to live their lives. That’s the real benefits of a living wage.
Isn’t it ironic that one of the reasons (and for some it’s the only reason) that people work is for the money but so many employees avoid talking about payment and that’s probably because we don’t know how to?
Absolutely. Companies have encouraged this idea of not talking about compensation and even families have raised their kids telling them not to talk about money. Some people may think that it’s not polite to talk about it, but it takes away our ability to negotiate. It allows companies to get away with unequal payment and gives the opportunity to escalate pay disparities. At Gravity, we have never had that pay gap. By openly talking about pay, it gives everyone more of an equal footing when it comes to negotiating pay.
Is there a business case for putting people over profits? Do you have any advice for HR leaders on convincing the C suite to re-think and re-address equality in the workplace?
Employers tend to not like to make changes. I think it’s important to understand that many companies give lip service, claiming to be on the side of their workers, but when searching for a job you have to be sceptical. As HR professionals, your role is to keep executives in the company accountable, questioning them, and not being subservient to them. Your role should be an advocate for employees not an advocate for the company. HR departments get that wrong a lot. Being an aggressive advocate for employees is the best thing.
You have a great presence on LinkedIn. As a business leader, what are your guiding principles when it comes to posting on social media?
I aim to spread the truth, get the facts out there, and point out when there are inaccuracies or perceptions that are far too kind to the wealthy and corporations. People give a lot of free PR to wealthy corporations and to billionaires. Instead, we should be holding them accountable. I aim to provide people with information to fight against the system.
What can the Australian HR + L&D Tech Fest community look forward to from your talk in November?
I’m most looking forward to the Q&A portion so we can have a real conversation about what is and isn’t working in the corporate world.
Hear more from Dan Price as he speaks in greater detail about harnessing a culture of belonging and togetherness at the HR + L&D Innovation & Tech Fest, 9-10 November 2021 - ICC, Sydney. Dan will speak live to the community from USA via a video stream.
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