'Positive results' | Airbnb extends pay transparency policy to total compensation including equity

Airbnb extends pay transparency policy to total compensation including equity

Airbnb has announced its pay transparency policy will expand to total compensation, with employees now given visibility over equity awards as well as base pay and bonuses.

In a statement released on March 13, the holiday lettings app announced that every Airbnb employee across the globe can now see the total target compensation range – which includes the base pay, bonus target, and annual performance equity target – for their role.

Airbnb began its journey toward pay transparency in 2022 when it started sharing base pay hiring ranges for job postings in the U.S.

In 2023, Airbnb announced an expansion, allowing U.S. employees to access the base pay range – which it defines as “the competitive salary or hourly wage range for an employee’s role, level, and the country where they are based” - using an internal HR platform, before rolling this out to the rest of its global workforce.

Following the expansion, all global Airbnb employees are now granted pay transparency over total compensation, including equity awards.

Performance equity award targets are the amount of company equity granted to employees during Airbnb’s annual performance review process. Awards are based on the employee’s role, their level or seniority, the country where they are based, and their performance review rating.

Airbnb says its continuous expansion to pay transparency is driving positive results including greater consistency and equity in compensation packages offered to new recruits.

“We believe that greater transparency around employee compensation is critical to building a culture of trust and accountability,” the statement says.

The statement also highlights Airbnb’s work to establish pay equity within the organization. It has conducted a pay equity analysis each year since 2015 and says this year’s annual compensation review revealed no unexplained gaps in its salary or performance-based equity awards.

Airbnb believes the pay equity audits, alongside the expanded pay transparency policy, will help it foster an inclusive and equitable workplace. “We will continue exploring ways to offer greater transparency about our compensation practices to our employees,” the statement concludes.

What pay transparency laws exist in the U.S.?

The pay transparency regulatory landscape is somewhat proliferated in the U.S., with variations from state to state. California became the first U.S. state to adopt some form of pay transparency legislation in 2018, prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their salary history.

Currently, there are nine states with pay transparency laws, with legislation in a further state (Illinois) set to come into effect in 2025. Colorado was the first state to pass a pay transparency law on job postings, where employers face a fine of up to $10,000 per violation if they do not disclose salary information or total compensation on listings.

In March 2023, the Salary Transparency Act and Pay Equity for All Act were introduced in Congress, and if passed, would mandate similar requirements to disclose wage rates and not ask for salary history across all U.S. states.

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Speaking to HR Grapevine, employment lawyer Mark F. Kluger has previously said the melting pot of legislation makes the task for HR leaders in crafting policies and practices around such laws incredibly difficult.

“It is incumbent upon HR leaders to know themselves or have employment lawyers that counsel them on the applicable laws in every state and city in which they hire,” Kluger explained. “The current alternative to crafting different practices for each state in which an employer hires, is to have a single, comprehensive pay transparency practice that complies with the broadest state and local law.”

Airbnb seems to be following this pro-active approach as one of the pioneering global organizations in pay transparency practices.

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