Asking someone how much they make is still a taboo question, yet it’s one thing that’s on everyone’s mind.
“I could tell you I had cancer and it would be dramatically more uncomfortable if I asked what you were making at your job,” said Comparably’s cofounder and CEO Jason Nazar.
He knows it’s an extreme example, but there’s truth to the fact that asking what your peers make is often uncomfortable.
Most people want to know if they’re being paid fairly or if they should be commanding higher pay, but don’t know how to find out.
Nazar’s new company, Comparably, is launching Thursday to bring transparency to not only pay, but also culture in the workplace.
Workers can anonymously report their salary, experience level, company size, location, and a whole other host of factors to Comparably. In return, the site shows you where you rank compared your peers with the same position and experience level.
It makes it easy to see that an engineer in Los Angeles is paid on average less than one in San Francisco, or a woman in the same position might be making less than a man. For employers, especially startups who see rapid growth, it can be good to check what an operations person is paid when a company is only 10 employees versus their compensation when it grows to be 100.
While just talking about pay is helpful, another major factor in how happy employees are is how they feel about working at the company.
Comparably has simple quizzes about company culture, from professional development opportunities to how often they get raises. Based on your answers, Comparably gives you a score on how satisfied you are with your job.
While all this data is helpful, one major feedback Nazar got from testing was what to do with it. Early users thought finally having the information was great, but they had no idea what to do with it.
“The most natural inclination was to ask questions like what is it like working at other companies,” Nazar said. “There still isn’t a large well known anonymous kind of platform where people could connect with job titles.”
The company quickly added an anonymous question-and-answer component to the site as well, similar to what existed on now defunct Secret or the lifestyle-oriented Whisper.
Nazar’s passion for bringing transparency to the workplace stemmed from his experience creating Docstoc, a startup that sold to Intuit in 2013 and was recently shut down. Docstoc provided a resource for small businesses to find the paperwork and information they needed to get up and running. However, paying employees always remained a black box that no one could tap into.
While some companies, like Buffer, have gone as far as posting each employees’ salary online, Nazar believes there should be a middle ground in making pay information transparent for both employees and employers.
“There’s nowhere where you can get really detailed, specific compensation data on what people like you are making,” Nazar told Business Insider.
At least until now.
Comparably launches Thursday only for those in the tech industry, but it will eventually move beyond it the narrow vertical. He’s hoping Comparably will be that resource going forward and already has raised $6.5 million from investors to build it out.
Even though it’s only day one, Nazar has a large vision for the company, and it’s not stopping just with engineers and designers. Comparably could one day show how Facebook engineers specifically rate the company and attach a public rating to, in a way Glassdoor does. Companies that have low ratings would hopefully work to improve it, otherwise Comparably would show who the bad actors are.
“Our mission is to make work better, and the main way we can do that to start is to make work radically transparent around compensation and on culture,” Nazar said.