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February 27, 2022

The Ultimate Guide to Benchmarking Your Compensation

We know when women have accurate data, there is no gender difference in outcomes, but accurate compensation data can be surprisingly difficult to find.  That’s what we created this guide, based on almost a decade of helping women negotiate.

First, a few tips:

  1. Don’t just benchmark salary – also think about other compensation areas, like stock (men tend to get 4x as many stock options as women) and equity (women average 15-30% less than men). You can find a great resource on the nitty gritty of compensation components in Pavilions Compensation Guide.
  2. Don’t just ask women – we are underpaid as a group, so you’ll get a falsely low read of the market.
  3. You can download our Compensation Benchmarking Template to keep track of the information you learn.

Compensation Data Sources

  1. Former Colleagues, especially those at your level or higher
    • Know what they made but also may have hired someone at your level and know what the company’s compensation range is
    • No longer at the company, so tend to be an open book
  2. Mentors
    • Especially those in your field who have hired folks around your level
  3. Peers, including those at the same role in a different company
    • You can say, “I’m getting ready to negotiate and am considering asking for X… does that seem right to you?”  Even if they don’t want to share their salary, this will help you understand if you’re in the ballpark.
    • Unless you’ve asked permission, don’t provide your colleagues names during a negotiation – keep your sources confidential
  4. HR
    • Ask for the salary band, job responsibilities and experience requirements
  5. Recruiters
    • A great source of information, particularly if they specialize in your area. 
  6. Industry or Association publications:
    • Hit or miss depending on the industry, but a few include:
      • Venture Capital Executive Compensation Survey
      • Dice Tech Salary Report provides salary data for technical AND business roles in the Tech industry across geographical regions.
      • Levels.fyi offers level comparisons for a wide variety of roles across tech i.e. engineering, design, but also on the business side including PM, sales, Tech. program manager. The site offers total comp figures (broken down by base, bonus, and options) for roles designated by company and level
      • PNP Staffing Group (nonprofit salary reports) publishes annual salaries and staffing trends reports to help you compete effectively for talent in the marketplace. These reports provide nonprofits organizations with the most up-to-date information available, including salaries for 45 positions across five nonprofit budget sizes.
      • Gender and Compensation at VC-backed Startups – Where Are We Today? Sharworks by Morgan Stanley distributes the industry-standard VC Executive Compensation Survey alongside 160+ top venture firms. All sponsoring firms and their participating portfolio companies receive the final report of detailed, aggregate, and anonymous compensation data.
      • What Salaries are Startup CEO’s Earning? Kruze Consulting analyzed data from 125 startups to aggregate compensation and create the CEO salary report
  7. Proxy searches for public companies
    • Allows you to see what the top folks are getting, which provides an idea of the mix of incentives (e.g., not just base salary) that can be in play
  8. Career Services at your alma mater
    • Some are even starting to collect alumni salaries
  9. Internet (the following are the most reliable sources, but they are not the most user-friendly):
    • bls.gov
    • H1B visa database
    • TransparentCareer is a personalized compensation research platform built specifically for MBAs. Create a custom peer group set based on school, industry, role, years of experience, and city to generate your free custom benchmarking report
    • Jobstar is a job search guide offering access to current job openings, with links to over 300 salary surveys.
  10. Internet (these resources tend to be self-reported, so the data isn’t as reliable; we highly recommend supplementing with other data sources):
    • fairygodboss.com (see Salary Bank)
    • glassdoor.com
    • indeed.com
    • LinkedIn Salary
    • Monster.com
    • payscale.com
    • salary.com
    • thesalaryproject.com
    • salarylist.com
    • salaryexpert.com
    • vault.com
    • ziprecruiter.com

Many thanks to executive compensation expert Linda Steffens of m3x Analytics and the compensation negotiation experts at Riva for their input!

Much like our list of 50+ things to negotiate list, we are constantly updating this resource. If you know of other data sources, please share them in the comments below.

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