Recently, Steven Renderos, Executive Director, and Shubha Balabaer, Director of Operations, sat down for a conversation about our internal pay culture, and the ways we strive to disrupt the status quo within our current workplace.  They discussed how compensation has been previously determined and addressed the need to switch to a policy that accurately reflects the value of our MediaJustice team. Based on the shifts that have been made, they hope that other movement-based organizations consider drawing inspiration from the strategies, tools, and considerations our team used to change previous procedures and policies. 

“By honoring the value of our staff, reflecting on internal culture and policies, and ultimately incorporating transparency into procedures and policies, MediaJustice sustained and improved our  work culture.”

As mentioned by Steven, MediaJustice “has been an organization led by visionary Black people and other people of color. Today we are 75% women, TGNC or non-binary. One of the enduring qualities embedded in the DNA of this organization is how it encourages people to show up as their full selves. That means our people’s queerness, disabilities, and identities are not checked at the door. It means that we don’t ignore the impact that the outside world, shaped by racism, capitalism, ableism, and patriarchy might have on how we show up day to day. To build on what’s made MediaJustice a special place to work, we are striving toward new ways to improve our work environment. That’s why this year we decided to change our approach to compensation and benefits.” 

MediaJustice has implemented changes in our compensation policy, including principles of transparency and equity.

Most importantly, Shubha says, “we reject the notion that someone’s productivity at any given moment should be rewarded monetarily, and so we do not include performance anywhere in our compensation structure.  We believe that everyone does the best they can when set up for success and we choose to find ways to nurture, coach, and uplift our staff.  We want our staff to feel able to take risks, name and learn from their mistakes, and know that their salary is not at stake.”

This conversation makes us aware that when organizations are based on performance-based compensation, the organization is met with subjectivity, opaqueness, and biased hiring practices in the face of employees that invest their time in that organization. Shubha and Steven make us aware that when an organization shows up for its team,  staff don’t have to worry about being judged, or the “uncertainty and volatility in our personal lives and in our work”.  Our movements, as we know, are completely uncertain and so our work is constantly changing.  So it is so important right now to say – I’m going to hold our staff in this way.”

In order to adequately address the barriers of a movement and advance a cause, the voices and organizers have to be cared for, valued, and provided with clarity during internal processes. Employees and workers should be able to have clear communication and a workplace culture that instills security and responsibility. In this aspect, emotional labor should never be expected in the workplace, and when it is shown, it should be respected. By embracing transparency within these areas, the movement benefits from innovative ideas, new processes that improve the work or quality of life for team members. Organizations and movements can thrive only when their workforce trusts that they can safely bring forward the change they push for and apply the feedback they receive. A transparent workplace recognizes and compensates with fairness and ethical standards. Leaders are responsible for setting the precedent that transparency is valuable, and expected across the entire organization. Change in a movement can only start within, and as discussed in the video, MediaJustice can help guide them in their experience of embracing policy changes and their continued commitment to a transparent work culture. 

And ultimately, Steven and Shubha invite organizations in the movement to join MediaJustice in the shift toward transparency. In turn, they hope the industry and our work environments can only feel further empowered, valued, and respected.


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