In July 2019, NWLC implemented a new compensation framework that made clear our commitments to internal equity and opportunities all staff have for future career growth at the Law Center. The system we have adopted is more straightforward, transparent, and in many ways innovative for nonprofits.

Why did NWLC adopt this particular compensation framework?

There isn’t one standard nonprofit approach to compensation systems, nor is there a single one-size-fits-all compensation model for ensuring pay equity. The system NWLC adopted is informed by its decades of leadership in pay equity and reflects the following NWLC priorities: it allows for more objective factors to guide pay setting, more standardization, more transparency, more assurance of internal equity, and meaningful salary growth opportunities for individuals at the lower end of the pay scale. Our framework is modeled on systems that reward the strength of the organization as a whole and promote cohesion across staff doing similar jobs. The system also reduces the risk that racial, gender or other forms of bias will affect individual salary determinations, a principle core to our work. Similar systems are used in many government and union settings. We are committed to regularly reviewing our practices and individual outcomes that result from this framework.

How does the framework work?

At NWLC compensation is based on position and relevant work experience to ensure that people in similar roles who have similar years of experience are paid a similar amount. The Law Center counts experience as follows:

  • Experience spent in relevant roles where individuals worked for an average of at least 30 hours a week or more; staff who have worked multiple relevant jobs during the same period that add up to at least 30 hours per week will have that experience counted;
  • Total experience is counted by month, then rounded up to the next year if the total number of years (converted from total months) ends in .50 or more and rounded down to the prior year if less than that;
  • Experience gained while attending a full-time undergraduate, graduate or professional degree program will not count as work experience for staff members’ placement on the grid, even if an individual worked in those roles 30+ hours/week.[1]

Why relevant work experience? How is relevancy defined?

The mix of experiences that NWLC staff and candidates bring to their roles are extremely valuable and critical to the fabric of the organization. In developing the pay system, we aimed to ensure that people with similar work experience are paid similarly, and that the experience that differentiated pay for employees doing similar jobs is only experience relevant to their core work.

Determination of relevancy is based on the responsibilities and qualifications for a staff member’s current role as defined by general job postings and their field.

Examples of Relevant Experience

While relevancy cannot be applied uniformly across positions, because it is based on role and fields, below are some examples (not an exhaustive list) of relevant experience by team:

  • Admin Team: Finance, accounting, human resources, office operations, information technology, grants administration.
  • External Affairs – Development: Grant seeking and stewardship, proposal writing, donor/constituent relationship management, database management, sales, fundraising, fundraising volunteer relationship management (including board relations), financial reporting, prospect research, events management, marketing, issue area expertise.
  • External Affairs – Communications: Communications, public relations, journalism, social media, graphic design, brand management, events management, marketing, advocacy, coalition building, organizing (field and digital), campaigning, issue area expertise.
  • Program Teams: Legal; federal or, state/local policy; advocacy; development of policy, legislation, issue-area messaging and reports; research and analytics; coalition building and organizing; campaigning; issue area expertise.

Partial credit for work experience that is partially related to current work

Who determines and approves candidate salaries?

The Director of Human Resources or their designee on our human resources team makes a placement recommendation, which is reviewed by the Vice President of Administration & Finance in consultation with the staff member’s Vice President. The COO & Chief of Staff makes final determinations regarding salaries and grid placements, except for senior staff salaries which are determined by the President & CEO, validated by an external pay consultant and reviewed by the Board’s Compensation Committee.

[1] The exception to this rule is if a staff member attended school part-time while working at least 30 hours per week in a relevant role, thus taking longer to complete school. In that case, relevant work experience will be counted as set forth above.