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Why Buffer Has Transparent Salaries and How The Open Salary Formula Works

We’ve updated our transparent salary formula since this post originally was published. Learn more about the latest formula and see all the team’s current salaries.

Joel and Leo discuss one of the best-known elements of Buffer’s culture—transparent salaries—in this Founder Chat.

Here are a few more resources for additional information on Buffer’s transparent salaries:

• Take a look at our open salaries spreadsheet to see the formula in action.

• For more information about Buffer’s open salaries, read our full post here.

• Read about Buffer’s transparent equity here.

• And here’s a look at what happened in our recruitment efforts after we announced transparent salaries.

See more Founder Chat videos on our YouTube playlist—be sure to subscribe if you like what you see!

Do you have a question for Joel and Leo, or an idea for a topic you’d like to see them address in a future chat? Share it with us in the comments!

  • cv harquail

    Hi Leo and Joel-
    Thanks for this additional window into your ‘open salaries’ initiative.

    I’m interested to know more about what changes you learned you needed to make in the formula going forward (mentioned at about 4:27).

    What did you discover that wasn’t working the way you’d hoped it would, and how did you change it?

  • Jimmie

    I really dig your salary transparency, Courtney. I’ve found it very helpful when I think about what I’d want to ask a prospective employer in my own ongoing job search.

    But, I have a question. Do you like that folks know what you make? I’m curious about how it is to have an arrangement like that.

  • Haydée Bouscasse

    You are the best bloggers I know and I follow as much as I can your methods of transparancy, even if I am still a small blog (not that small in France

    You are the futur !

    Thanks a lot

  • Natalie Carmolli

    I love this. When I think about the large American corporations that taxpayers now find themselves bailing out, I have to wonder if something like this would have helped? I can’t speak for other countries, but In America there’s a huge salary disparity in many corporations and these become talking points when the companies go belly up. Companies mismanage funds and people lose jobs and retirement savings, yet the top executives still receive millions in compensation.

    I think large and small businesses both could benefit from more transparency – then the people applying for jobs in those companies can decide for themselves if they want to work someplace where the executive salaries dwarf those of the “working class.”

  • Ted Artus

    Very nice approach. Thanks for sharing this. Two questions though:

    1) How do you assign the experience level (Junior vs Intermediate vs Advanced vs Experience vs Master) and the seniority level (at least Senior)?
    Do you have another formula to define this or it is part of the negotiation?

    2) As for the location aspect, I saw in another blog post that you use Numbeo for the cost of living by looking at the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment. Why not looking at the “Cost of Living Index Rate” of Numbeo which takes into account more than just renting a one-bedroom apartment?
    Also, what are the ranges of the brackets A, B, C, D based on the criteria you look at? E.g.: $2-$3k for one-bedroom apartment is Area A?

    I am asking those 2 questions because when I look at the salary range on your job offer ($82-$140k) and the salary of your engineers, most of them are on the lower end ($80-$90k).

    Thanks. Great culture. I wish more companies were that open-minded and transparent.

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