Building a Foundation of Fairness: Recommendations for Charter School Leaders

By Jennifer Svendsen

In the complex realm of education, where every staff member plays a pivotal role, pay equity is not just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic investment in the well-being of your staff. As leaders of charter schools seek ways to boost staff retention and engagement, my team has a thorough and thoughtful approach centered around values-driven pay equity. While this work is often done in-house with varied results, we know from experience that it is better to have a third party run the assessment and support the creation of an equitable compensation program. Creating tangible and lasting change means using all the tools available, and in this case, an equity-focused consultant is an invaluable tool for the organization. This work is challenging, but third parties (like Edgility) are experts. We’re neutral and can help build, or in some cases, rebuild trust through an unbiased and transparent process. In the third article of the series, we’ll delve into more actionable strategies leaders can use alongside a consultant to improve pay equity at their schools.

  • Catch up on the two other articles in this series here, and here.

Inclusive Discovery Process: Amplifying Voices, Fostering Unity

At Edgility, we believe in the power of inclusive decision-making. Our approach involves engaging a diverse cross-section of staff through all-staff surveys and focus group discussions. By collaboratively developing a compensation philosophy that resonates with the values of each staff member, we ensure that the entire organization has a stake in the program’s direction. This goes beyond the initial compensation philosophy and extends into the creation of tailored salary structures for different staff groups, acknowledging and valuing the unique contributions of each role within the school community.

Not sure what this looks like in action? Learn how two of our clients are prioritizing pay equity.


Leaning on Internal Equity: Disrupting Market Biases

Understanding the systemic biases present in the external labor market is crucial. Because schools face funding challenges, it’s integral that school leaders build salary structures that prioritize internal equity over external competitiveness. By grouping roles of similar scope together and ensuring they share the same pay range, we actively counteract the structural racism and sexism prevalent in the broader job market. This ensures that all staff members, regardless of demographic background, are fairly compensated for their contributions.

For your consideration: Walk the Talk: Is it Time to Consider a Living Wage Floor?


Equity Audit: A Comprehensive View to Drive Fairness

Our commitment to pay equity goes beyond surface-level assessments. Our team suggests that school leaders conduct a thorough equity audit. For us, that looks like running wage gap analyses by role, level, race, and gender. By examining pay ratios and discussing living wages, we empower charter schools to identify and rectify potential wage gaps, ensuring that every staff member receives a salary that reflects the true value of their work. 

Related: For a look into your school’s talent management program, check out our Talent Equity Assessment!


Transparency: Empowering through Understanding

Transparency is not just a buzzword; it’s the cornerstone of trust. We are fierce advocates for full transparency throughout the compensation process. While these conversations may be difficult to have, they are extremely important to ensuring the success of your final program. When leaders (with the support of their consulting team) provide staff with insights into how their pay is determined, how it can grow over time, and the criteria influencing pay decisions, we empower individuals to shape their unique professional paths. This transparency fosters a culture of inclusion and belonging, enriching staff engagement and loyalty.

Watch: Disrupting Wage Gaps: Aligning Your Values with the Market


A Partner for Your Compensation Journey

As leaders of charter schools navigate the complex terrain of education, integrating values-driven pay equity is not just a strategic move; it’s a commitment to the well-being and success of the entire school community. We at Edgility stand ready to guide charter school leaders in building a foundation of fairness that not only retains and engages staff, but also cultivates a culture of respect, inclusion, and shared success. Let’s get started


Meet the expert:

Jennifer Svendsen

  • Builds Equitable Organizations
  • Talent Management Support
  • Closes Wage Gaps

Put your values to work. Act on equity.

We believe equity isn’t a box to check. It’s a daily action. Someone’s unique identity isn’t something to overcome–when paired with the right opportunity, it becomes one of their greatest professional assets. We exist to empower social impact organizations to recognize and overcome unconscious bias, racism and sexism so they can build a workforce that reflects and strengthens the communities they serve.