The CEO of a $3 billion startup shared his salary with everyone in the company -- here's why

Courtesy of Marc LoreIt’s about ‘radical transparency.’ Marc Lore is pictured with the original Jet leadership team.
  • Marc Lore is the president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce in the US. He sold his startup, Jet.com, to Walmart for ~ $US3 billion in 2016.
  • At Jet, Lore made his salary – and everyone else’s – public in order to foster “radical transparency.”
  • While more companies are implementing pay transparency, it may not be the right move for every organisation.

In the early days of Jet – the e-commerce startup that was bought by Walmart in 2016 for $US3 billion – everyone knew each other’s salaries.

That included the salary of the company’s CEO, Marc Lore, who is now the president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce in the US.

On an episode of Business Insider’s podcast, “Success! How I Did It,” Lore told US editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell that the decision to disclose pay data reflected one of the company’s core values: transparency.

“I thought that was really important that there wasn’t any sort of weird unconscious bias happening, that everybody at the same level got the same amount,” Lore told Shontell, specifically mentioning the gender pay gap. What’s more, Lore said that pay transparency effectively eliminated salary negotiations during the hiring process. Here’s Lore:

“When we hired somebody from the outside, we would basically size that person up and everyone would interview them and say, ‘Yep, director.’

“And then we’d go back and say, ‘OK, everyone thinks you’re a director, go on LinkedIn, check out the other directors, we really feel like you’ll feel like you’re a director. Here’s what you make.’ And people would say afterward, like, ‘I just really appreciated not having to negotiate, knowing that it was fair.'”

In a previous interview with Shontell, Lore explained the company’s ten levels of salaries and titles, which determined salary and stock option grants. Every employee was assigned to a level based on work experience. The only way to earn more, Lore told Shontell, was to get promoted to the next level.

Pay transparency may not be the right move for every organisation

Jet wasn’t the only company to disclose salary information.

Since 1986, Whole Foods has allowed employees to look up the salaries of other employees. More recently, social-media company Buffer and analytics startup SumAll joined their ranks. In Buffer’s case, you don’t even have to work at the company to find out what individual employees earn – salaries are posted on Buffer’s public blog.

Web-services firm GoDaddy has found something of a middle ground between pay transparency and confidentiality: It lets employees see the salary range for their level.

It’s unclear that complete salary transparency is the right move for every organisation (which Lore acknowledged).

Business Insider previously spoke to Elena Belogolovsky, an assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University, who said that you don’t have to disclose salary information for every employee, but you need to give people concrete information about how they can earn more.

Company size may also play a role in how feasible it is to disclose salary information. In the interview for the “Success!” podcast, Lore said that at Walmart – a company with more than two million employees – he can’t have salary transparency.

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