Spark Growth Digital Marketing Millennials

What Millennials Want at Work: A Straightforward, Inclusive Meritocracy

I admit it. I’m that person. There’s one at every company. Drinks the Kool-Aid a little too hard, intertwines the company values into casual conversations. That’s me. Yes, when I raised my hand in class the other students did roll their eyes, why do you ask? Anyways, I’m proud to be that person; after all, I helped to make this Kool-Aid. So it’s no surprise that our core values come up not only in new business presentations and new talent onboardings, but also in deliverables feedback, performances reviews and interviews.

Spark Growth is and has always been a 100 percent women and LGBTQ+ owned and led organization. Inclusion is in our DNA, and we put it front and center in our hiring and talent management, too. How? By embracing another one of our core values, straightforward. In fact, those two values are often used hand-in-hand here, elaborated upon in the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “be who you are and say what you feel.” So we created straightforward job descriptions.

Inclusion is in our DNA, and we put it front and center in our hiring and talent management, too.

 

Every practice area at Spark Growth has the same title structure. Within those titles, there are strategic competencies unique to the practice and role, but there are also expectations around account and client relationship management, new business development, and mentorship and talent development. In short, we ask our team to be resourceful.

…everyone at the same level can be assured that they are being paid within that range. Everyone can be assured that they are being held to the same standards in order to advance.


You can see the skills that you are supposed to have mastered at your current level, you can see the skills that you should master in order to be promoted to the next level, hell, you can see the skills that I should have to hold my title. And along with those skills is a compensation range. There’s room for movement within it, but everyone at the same level can be assured that they are being paid within that range. Everyone can be assured that they are being held to the same standards in order to advance. When you meet that standard, we will advance you, there’s no minimum time served at each level. And when we advance you, you will receive a raise to within the salary band for that position, no matter what you currently make. Straightforward, right? (And also results-driven, another of our core values.)

So why is this policy inclusive? First and foremost, it all but eliminates the possibility of a pay gap. Colleagues of all backgrounds can be assured that if they achieve the same title, their salary will be within the same pay range. To complement this intention, we’ve also ended our practice of asking applicants for their salary history, we only ask what they would like to be paid to perform the job function. When an applicant provides a desired salary outside of our range, we tell them, straightforwardly, what the salary range is for this position and the roles and responsibilities that come with it, as well as our approach to salary and advancement. We then ask them if they’d like to continue. I’ve never had an applicant decline to do so.

Colleagues of all backgrounds can be assured that if they achieve the same title, their salary will be within the same pay range.


Additionally, this approach makes everyone equally responsible for the “office housework” that Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant identified, and it fosters team work by making mentorship a condition of advancement. The success of your team is not a threat – it’s not someone coming up behind you, it’s a credit to you and your leadership.

…with clear qualifications for each level and measurable expectations, it takes feelings out of the advancement process.


Last, with clear qualifications for each level and measurable expectations, it takes feelings out of the advancement process. So for every woman, person of color, and LGBTQ+ team member who has ever been told that you lack some nascent quality of the next title even though your clients were thrilled, your team was thriving and your sales numbers were up, we say no more. And we’re putting our money where our mouth is. And ya know what? Straight, white, cis men – at least the ones we want working with us – are perfectly happy with this meritocratic approach, too.

We check the boxes on the other millennial talent desires, too of course (being a millennial myself and all) – unlimited vacation, flexible work from home, ample snacks (avocado toast included) and hammocks to eat them in. But we can offer these things because of this approach (ok, the snacks are just delicious, but the rest). If you have clear advancement expectations and your desire is to succeed, then you’ll make sure that the work gets done and that the team gets mentored and that your clients are happy, so by all means, work from home because the cable installer is coming, or because your overslept, or just because you just feel like it.

We believe that this is the best way to get and keep the best talent and to encourage them to perform at their best.


We have seen how this approach creates a dedicated, fired up (you guessed it, another core value) team and we believe that clients feel that as well, which is one of the reasons they choose to work with us year after year. We believe that this is the best way to get and keep the best talent and to encourage them to perform at their best. We believe that it’s the right thing to do. And we believe that it can be a small step towards a big change.

And straightforwardly, we think you should take that step too.

Want to learn more about working with our values-oriented team as a client, partner or colleague? Email us at [email protected] or join our mailing list through the sign up on this page.

Lauren Karasek
Lauren Karasek
[email protected]