At Cantilever, we strive to provide fair and generous compensation which keeps team members happy staying with us for the long haul.
As a remote company, it has been hard for us to decide how to treat geography when it comes to compensation. One method used by Gitlab and others is to calibrate salaries to local cost of living. We find this compelling, but fraught. Two equal team members with the same responsibilities and output could be paid differently just because of where they choose (or need) to live. We can’t change client rates in response to the local market of the people doing the work, so merely through this policy we could cut ourselves off from hiring some staff who might otherwise be great fits. Some companies offer compensation according to the labor market of HQ, but this comes with similar awkwardnesses and potential biases.
Instead we have decided to consider "Remote" to be its own labor market, and to calibrate pay to the global market for high-end remote design and development work. We want to be competitive even with companies in relatively expensive labor markets, since there is concentration of great talent in those places. This catch-all approach has encouraged a great diversity of applicants, and has helped us build an unparalleled team of amazing people from around the world.
We offer contract, hourly wage, and salaried compensation structures to provide maximum flexibility, and compensation must take into account additional taxes levied for US-based W2 employees. During recent hiring processes, it been needlessly complex to discuss compensation with potential team members because of all of these variables. One of our core values is Radical Transparency, so we have decided to codify and publish our compensation tiers. We are hopeful that this is useful for existing staff as well, to understand where you’re at within your progression at Cantilever, and to stimulate conversations about how you can move up or between tiers.
Finally, salary transparency is an important factor in fighting wage discrimination, so we hope that taking steps like this will prevent accidental bias in hiring and compensation negotiation.
We have opted to pay in USD. We originally wanted to pay in local currency, because in theory it makes purchasing power remain more consistent during currency fluctuations, but the independent movement of different currencies can lead to significant USD pay gaps between employees in the same role, which can morph into real pay gaps. USD fluctuations tend to incur local purchasing power fluctuations anyway, so there is not much escaping that volatility. If we consider Remote to be its own labor market, the currency of that market is certainly USD (for now).
About the Payment Tiers
For each category of staffer, we have defined an overall salary range which is affordable and profitable for Cantilever. The bottom end of the range represents an amount we could profitably pay for someone to be at the very junior level in that category. The top end represents what we might be able to pay for the "ideal" person in that category – even if we couldn’t afford to take on someone at that salary immediately. We have left room in the tiers for our talent level and our budgets to grow.
For each of the categories we have then split up the range into four "tiers" based on capabilities and performance expectations. The tiers are based on market data and internal experience. They do not take into account partner (shareholder) compensation. A partner would be expected to take a pay cut commensurate with their ownership stake, with upside and associated risk. They also do not take into account bonuses or benefits. The tiers are calibrated to full time salary data, but we have an algorithm to produce suitable hourly wage equivalents.
"Full Time" for Cantilever is defined as a minimum of 35 hours/week. All numbers here reflect US W2 income. Contractor pay should be slightly higher for US- or Canada-based contract workers to account for the additional tax burden they take on as contractors and their lack of sick leave. Many people blend roles, and so their compensation can be fairly determined by mixing together two scales or adjusting their position within their primary category to match their scale.
When resources permit, we plan to use our algorithm to generate a publicly-accessible calculator where prospective team members can judge what they could make here. Until then, we have an old-fashioned table.
Salaried Compensation (W2, US)
Hourly Compensation (W2, US)
These are the career ladders that should be used to evaluate an individual’s placement within the matrix. More coming soon.
Raises and COLA
Every quarterly review between you and your manager should involve some discussion of compensation. If you ever feel underpaid (or if you are some kind of saint and feel overpaid), please speak up! The pay tiers will be reviewed and adjusted regularly to keep pace with inflation within the Remote Work labor market. Whenever we raise the pay tiers, you will get a small raise automatically in order to maintain your current position within the tier structure.
International Team Members
International team members are paid as contractors. Their comp is determined by the ladder, plus an additional 12% to cover the share of payroll taxes that would have been covered for them were they based in the US, plus their lack of sick leave/healthcare reimbursements. This equalizes their effective wage with a US-based colleague in the same pay tier.
Some leadership positions demand commitments and duties outside of the normal working mold. We have encapsulated these duties under the "Office Head" moniker. They include:
- Allowing their homes to be Cantilever offices, hosting meetings and staff who are in town for work.
- And/or, managing a physical office space in their location which has strategic benefit to Cantilever
- Being visible in the design and dev communities of their location and being active in sales and recruiting outside of normal working expectations
To reflect the added contribution of these people outside of normal working time, they are paid an additional % of their computed wage based on the strategic importance of their location to Cantilever.