Teal graphic with lightbulb icons, text for Why We Removed Salary Negotiations and Featuring a Q&A with Erick Roa and Cynthia Garcia Villalta and headshots of Erick and Cynthia

Promoting Equity and Giving Our Best Offer: Why We Removed Salary Negotiations

by Elaine Fernandez

Making Waves Education Foundation » News Stories » Promoting Equity and Giving Our Best Offer: Why We Removed Salary Negotiations

Research shows that salary negotiation is an inequitable process that marginalizes women and people of color in comparison to white individuals and men. Out of new MBA graduates, 57% of men and only 7% of women negotiated their salaries for their first jobs according to research by Babcock and Laschever. Another study conducted by the American Psychology Association shared how African Americans who negotiate their salaries may end up being offered a lower starting salary.  

On July 1, 2022, a no negotiation policy took effect at Making Waves Foundation as a part of a revised compensation model. To learn more, I sat down with Chief People and Operations Officer Erick Roa and People and Culture Coordinator Cynthia Garcia Villalta at Making Waves Foundation to hear their thoughts on how this policy will allow for greater transparencies and a bolstering of equity. 

What does removing salary negotiations mean and what problem is it solving? 

Erick Roa: If you do not know how to negotiate, that is less money you save for retirement, less money that you have for bills, for extra spending. It has a substantial impact on someone’s earning ability in the long run.

We know based off research, that if you’re a person of color or you identify as a woman, negotiating is seen as a negative, so you are less likely to negotiate, or if you do, it might be held against you. 

We don’t negotiate salaries because we will give you the best possible offer based off a very consistent rubric and framework that we have. We lead with it, we’re proud of it. 

We worked with Edgility Consulting to create our new compensation model, and they recommended that we adopt the no salary negotiation policy. It was up to us to accept it.

I think if we genuinely believe in equity and we believe in ensuring that we make a sound compensation decision, then we do not leave it up to the unspoken value of negotiation. 

Will this policy allow for greater salary transparency?  

Erick Roa: Yes, the policy allows for greater salary transparency. We have the salary ranges for job levels available so people have public access to them. 

Cynthia Garcia Villalta: In some states it’s becoming required to be transparent about different salary bands, but right now, what we are seeing in terms of job listings is that ranges are really big, so folks don’t really know where they will land.

At Making Waves Foundation, you can see that we are very concise and realistic to the role and our expectations. Folks are very much aware from the very beginning about what salary to expect because of our ranges. 

How does this policy impact current and future employees at Making Waves Foundation? 

Erick Roa: A really beautiful result of this compensation model and evolving the way that we recruit and hire is that we have had a large number of internal hires and internal promotions in the last 12 months, which is something we’re very proud of.

Whether internal or external hires, we’re using tangible job levels and salaries based on a rubric and a transparent process. 

Besides the salary, what are the other benefits?  

Cynthia Garcia Villalta: We offer comprehensive medical, vision, and dental benefits. We cover 100% of medical, dental, and vision benefits for the full-time employee and one other category, whether it’s a dependent or a spouse.  

Also, we have generous time off policies. We recognize a lot of different holidays along with the fact that we close our office the day prior to holidays at 3 p.m. At other places it might be kind of unspoken, but here it’s known and it’s transparent.  

Erick Roa: To add on, there’s a $600 professional development stipend for each employee. We also offer a monthly remote internet reimbursement as well as up to $150 in funding for people to enhance their remote workspace.  

How is the policy bolstering equity within Making Waves? What have been some of the feedback or results?

Erick Roa: Early staff feedback has been positive. This is a new process and new program so there’s always space to grow and develop as you get better at it, but overall, from my perspective and from looking at employee survey data, the staff have experienced it in a positive way so far. 

You cannot say you promote equity if it is not a part of your system.

This is a real example of how equity is showing up in our work and how we put what we say on our website and in our core values into action in a way that impacts people in a big way in terms of what they can earn over the course of their career and lifetime. I think that’s something to be proud of.  

Erick Roa

Chief Operating Officer
About Making Waves Education Foundation

At Making Waves, we are committed to educational equity. Making Waves Education Foundation is a Bay Area nonprofit that supports Making Waves Academy – a public charter school with more than 1,100 5th through 12th grade students – and leads college and career programming with more than 430 college students.​

Knowing the opportunities that come with a college degree, we partner with historically underrepresented and underserved students to help make college affordable and graduation attainable. Centering the journeys of our students, our personalized approach includes college and career coaching, scholarships, and financial planning.​

Our alumni network includes more than 730 college graduates, who earn their degrees and land jobs at more than twice the rate of their first-generation, low-income peers, with 85% graduating debt-free.

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