Given Apple’s recent ban on pay equity discussion, should we take a job there?
As I interview for a new role, I notice how everyone is on their best behavior, and everyone paints a gloriously sunny picture of what life is like at their company.
Take, for example, Apple. I’m so impressed with the team I’m talking with and the hiring manager. But no one has brought up how Apple recently shut down its Slack channel for discussing pay equity. A friend of mine who knew I was interviewing there sent me the news, with a simple note, “ummmmm.” And I wrote back an equally simple, “urgh.” And then there’s #AppleToo where current and former Apple employees share patterns of discrimination, racism, and sexism at the company, citing leadership’s failure to address these issues.
I just don’t know what to do. It feels like I’m bringing rain to their sunshine.
The new role is exciting, a place for me to really rock. This is why I want to ignore what the latest news means about Apple. At the same time, one thing I’m grappling with is the issue of pay equity. Salesforce analyzed their salaries and made adjustments. Of those adjustments, 81% were gender-based. I’m a reasonably strong negotiator, yet I’m reasonably sure that I’m underpaid where I am.
And then there’s a reason I’m interested in leaving. I feel like the leadership team where I currently work don’t know where they’re going, making it hard to help them “get there.”
So what do I do? After all, I want a new job where I can make an impact. And Apple is an excellent brand on my resume. But, who wants to hire the person who asks tough questions?
How should I be pushing hiring managers and recruiters to give me honest answers?
My once oh-so-sunny hiring manager, who enthusiastically described the role, work, and team during our interviews?
She turned out to be a cocaine addict.
Like you, my little antenna that detects trouble had gone off during the interview process. Something wasn’t quite right. And, like you, I didn’t want to ask and risk not getting the job.
What I didn’t see back then was the more significant risk.
How, after just a few weeks of being in that particular role, I couldn’t stand being there. How the hiring manager was always happy until that moment when she wasn’t. How every day at work felt yo-yo-ish, as if I was being pulled on some invisible string; what happened was beyond my control. How the team constantly did cover-one’s-behind behavior with each other, as if we all privately knew her crazy would one day cost one of us our jobs.
The metrics that would determine if I was “successful” felt wobbly, constantly shifting. And so, by the time I got my annual review, I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn I was “failing.”
In the end, I had to RUN from that job. Flee from the harrowing hell that it was.
When the surprising news came out—many years later—that our former manager had completed a recovery program for a decade-plus-long cocaine habit? It spread like wildfire. Former teammates texted OMG, that explains everything!
And it did, in a way.
But there’s one thing it didn’t explain—something we all need to know.
You and I probably wouldn’t describe ourselves as conformists. But, there is no other word for what I did. I tried to please and prove that I could fit into their box. And in the process, I wasn’t asking the critical questions, the ones that explored if this was a good place for me.
And that’s what I want for you, Pushing. To ask your question.
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE RAIN?
You say you don’t want to. You worry about being the rain on their sunshine.
As if rain is a negative.
And I want to ask you, using the lyrics of John Fogerty, have you ever seen the rain comin’ down on a sunny day?
Rain doesn’t dampen; it renews. As the Hawaiian phrase goes, no rain, no rainbows. Living in California in yet another dramatic fire season, we’re so desperate for rain, knowing it can save us. Homes and communities, all. As it pitter pats on parched earth, it softens and fills what is otherwise arid and barren.
Without rain, there is no life. Without rain, no growth.
At work, that source of life and growth? It’s in the questions we ask.
When you bring your questions to a job search conversation, you’re adding life to the workplace. Inquiry is what initiates all change. Questions are how we explore what else could be, imagine what might be, and co-create what will be.
“Without a new question, there is no place for the (new) answer to come,” Clay Christensen, management teacher and one of the world’s foremost authorities on innovation, taught.
Without your question, there is an absence. Of you, Pushing.
CENTERING ONLYNESS (YOURS AND THEIRS) IN A JOB INTERVIEW
So the question is not if you ask, but how…
- First, honor your questions. It’s how you are authentic, alive, and present.
- Next, you share why it matters to you. Maybe you start by saying you’ve seen the David Burkus TED Talk on why you should know how much your coworkers get paid. Because pay transparency helps create a culture of innovation, something Apple ought to care about.
- And, you do it in a way that honors their perspective, their onlyness, so it leads to an exchange of ideas. You can ask the hiring manager an opening question like, how does she feel about this stuff?
- And you always listen and learn. You might notice that if they decline to answer this topic, you know tough questions aren’t welcomed. You might hear that they feel like they * can’t* talk about it even though they want to, so you learn what it’s like for them to work there.
- Gather the data to see what it would be like for you to work there. And, who knows? Maybe your question is equally heard. Perhaps it is reported up the chain of command so that HR learns that good candidates like yourself are questioning this policy.
What happens when you honor your question? You learn if what only you have to offer —your Onlyness—will be valued in this place.
SUN IS COLD, RAIN IS HOT.
Now, this is not a binary thing, Pushing.
You might ask, not love the answers and still join Apple. After all, that job might be better than your current one. No job is perfect. (Just like no person is perfect.) But it can be the “perfect next” move. We often talk about jobs as lifelong commitments when they are just the next place to add the value “only” we can.
A job search can easily be a way we seek approval instead of showing up authentically. Where we try to “get that job” rather than “find a place where we can best add value.” How we try to sell ourselves rather than show ourselves.
These shifts I’m naming are the ways we can better metric an onlyness-centered job search. So often in our careers, we’re so darn excited to be chosen. But if we’re to be fully alive at work, we see the power is in the choices we make.
THROUGH THE CIRCLE, FAST AND SLOW
You can’t join an organization to “make an impact” if you can’t even ask the question that’s in your heart.
Just play that choice out. You don’t ask this particular question now. When the next tricky question needs to be asked, what will you have taught yourself to do? What will you have trained the team about you? That’s why this matters. You act as who you want to be. And who you become is how you act now.
Run towards aliveness now so you won’t have to run away, later.