Progression & Salaries

How we approach salaries and progression

As a cooperative, we've spent time and care working out together, how we want to approach salaries and progression as an organisation. 

It's a distinct approach which impacts pay, how people are promoted, and how we lead and manage the organisation. 

Our progression structure recognises the contributions of staff as they grow in skill, experience and responsibility. 

We think about where we sit within the movement, recognising that our pay as well as the work needs to be in touch with the partners we work with. From community groups and grassroots campaigners, political staffers and trade union organisers, teachers and charity workers.

We want to foster a culture within which people are encouraged and developed to grow and be ambitious. 

Over the last decade as we've grown, so have our pay bands. As the work we take on has grown in scale, so have the opportunities to progress. 

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Why do we care so much about this?

We know what it's like to be thought of as people who don't fit the model of what a campaigner looks or sounds like. As much as anything, Small Axe has been a vehicle for all of us to do this work which otherwise we wouldn't have had the opportunity to do. 

That's why we think a great deal about progression. We know society isn't meritocratic but it should be. That's why we strive to model a working culture which creates space for people who would otherwise be overlooked to progress and be recognised for their performance and achievements.

Pay structure

Our pay and progression structure allows staff to progress and be rewarded for their hard work and gives us the space to employ and train junior staff. 

We recognise that the gap in value added between staff as they become more experienced and skilled decreases over time. That's why we have bands and it's also why we have a max 2.5 ratio between the lowest and highest bands.

The flat pyramid means that at the top of the pay structure we have a rank that we hope multiple individuals will attain. 

We make our long-term budgetary plans around the assumption that every staff member may reach this end-point. 

This also applies within teams. We don’t want to create a situation where an excellent staff member feels stuck or trapped, waiting for someone to leave in order to progress or achieve their career goals. 

We want as many brilliant people in our team as possible, that's why we want people to thrive and be recognised for their growing contributions.

How our structure influences our practice of leadership and management

This structure has profound implications for how we practice leadership throughout the organisation. At Small Axe a leader is someone who:

Develops themselves:
A good leader knows their practice is never perfect. They model humility and are open about the work they continually do to learn, improve and break new ground. 

Develops others:
A good leader develops others. That doesn’t have to mean line-management.

Develops the movement:
A good leader works to achieve systematic impact by building the infrastructure we need to win. 

How we decide where on the scale new starters begin

Our recruitment process is thorough. Designed to give candidates opportunities to show different sides of the skillset. 

Through the process we continually refine our assessments based on candidates performance as well as our experience of what it takes to work at Small Axe. 

We don't hire quickly, but we hire with a great deal of consideration. That includes hiring people to the right point on our scale. 

We are open about our assessment as part of a conversation. However, we have found that placing people too high on the scale creates pressure and expectations which are hard to match. When we place people at the right point in the scale there are more ready opportunities to grow and progress through and between bands. 

Ultimately that makes for a stronger culture, that recognises and celebrates the impact of every member of the team.