Sellen Construction Uses Syndio to Prioritize Pay Equity, Attract and Retain Top Talent
Founded in 1944, Sellen Construction is a Seattle-based construction firm that has delivered some of the region's most important projects, from high-rises and hospitals to historic renovations and high-tech facilities. Sellen's purpose "to improve the lives around them - as builders, partners, and neighbors" permeates their culture, including their focus on workplace equity.
While Sellen has always prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), in 2020 they redoubled their commitment - and backed it up with measurable action on pay equity. In the traditionally white, male, and slow-moving construction industry, this unequivocal commitment to DE&I and pay equity sets them apart. Anissa Lindgren, Director of Compensation, Benefits & Talent Analytics at Sellen, is a driving force in this effort. "It's not enough to say we're doing the right thing; we need to prove it," she says.
One of the key things in starting our pay equity journey was acknowledging that racial and gender pay gaps exist in our industry. We recognize that we play a role in closing those gaps and can lead our industry in doing so."
Director of Compensation, Benefits & Talent Analytics
Preventing pay inequities
Validating pay equity status with clear data and consistent policies
- Syndio's Pay Equity Platform, PayEQ™
- Syndio's Elite Consulting
- Reflects company values and commitment to employees
- Boosts employer brand as a certified “Fair Pay Workplace”
- Helps recruit and retain top talent
- Attracts new business
- Fuels a culture of transparency and trust
Pay equity has long been a focus for Sellen. In the past, the team had used a consultant to run a pay equity analysis, but the approach didn't provide proactive insights to prevent pay disparities, nor did it analyze the pay policies that led to differences in pay. It was important to them to not only find and fix problems after the fact, but to find a solution that would allow them to be more proactive and sustain pay equity over time.
They also sought more transparency into pay equity at all levels of the organization. While there was already transparency into union workers' pay - and therefore, clear, consistent pay - Sellen wanted to achieve similar clarity and transparency for non-unionized employees (i.e., office workers, management, and executives).
In November 2020, Sellen started working with Syndio's expert advisors and using Syndio's pay equity platform, PayEQ™, to analyze pay for non-unionized employees. During onboarding, Syndio's experts guided the Sellen team to define substantially similar groups (SSGs) and control for legitimate differences in pay in ways that are consistent with pay equity best practices. Within minutes of uploading their data, Lindgren was able to see the results of the analysis, which confirmed that Sellen was already in great shape on pay equity.
The Syndio team also helped Sellen analyze their pay policies and determine how they're impacting compensation for different groups of employees - like whether experience drives differences in pay for both men and women equally. "The insights from our Syndio analytics have challenged some long-held beliefs about pay, particularly about how to use the compensation touchstones of market data and performance metrics," says Kate Harkess, Chief People Officer at Sellen.
Sellen also uses anonymized graphs from the Syndio platform to show employees where they sit in their salary range compared to their peers. This is a helpful tool for the HR team to be transparent about Sellen's standards and build trust, so people feel like they can ask questions.
I can use Syndio data & visualizations to help managers and leadership see the impact of every pay policy, promotion policy, and hiring policy, and help them make better decisions around pay."
Director of Compensation, Benefits & Talent Analytics
Ongoing insights that drive DE&I initiatives
After completing the initial analysis, the Syndio platform is always running. This means Sellen's HR team has access to pay equity insights that are current, even as their workforce changes. They can also test compensation changes before rolling them out to ensure they don't negatively impact pay equity.
"On our DE&I roadmap, we knew we wanted to establish pay equity. But what we didn't know was that Syndio insights would benefit other dimensions of DE&I. With Syndio, we have become more intentional about building equity in other talent strategies, like development, promotions, and engagement. What we are learning is that the work in pay equity has broader impacts in how we show up as leaders and as an employer," says Harkess.
Fair Pay Workplace Certification
Sellen took pay equity a step further by partnering with Fair Pay WorkplaceTM, a nonprofit organization that provides a rigorous evaluation of pay data and the pay equity process, to validate Sellen's methodology. Sellen was the first general contractor to complete the process and get certified as a Fair Pay Workplace. The certification became the cornerstone for Sellen to communicate with confidence about their fair pay practices - to employees, candidates, board members, and more - publicly on social media and in the press.
Attracting top talent
Sellen's commitment to pay equity is a competitive advantage and it contributed to them being selected as a 2021 U.S. Best Managed Company by Deloitte Private and the Wall Street Journal. As Lindgren explains, "Syndio gives us better information to do the right thing quicker and it's more validated, more trusted, and opens the door for us to attract and retain talent."
Winning clients with shared values
Sellen frequently hears from clients that they want to work with a general contractor that shares their commitment to DE&I. And when values align, a partnership follows. "The fact that we can speak to the rigor we're providing around pay equity analysis and DE&I in general is really resonating with current and future clients," says Lindgren.
Sellen's goal is to not only stay vigilant about maintaining pay equity but also take steps to close the opportunity gap. Lindgren plans to use Syndio technology to help the company bring more women and people of color into higher-paying roles and ensure they continue to hire, promote, and reward all employees equitably.
We want to be a leader in our industry in multiple ways, and that includes our commitments to DE&I and how we use technology. Those go hand in hand with Syndio."
Director of Compensation,
Benefits & Talent Analytics