Longlisted for the 2021 Porchlight Business Book Awards, Management & Workplace Culture
An expert takes on the crisis of income inequality, addressing the problems with our current compensation model, demystifying pay practices, and providing practical information employees can use when negotiating their salaries and discussing how we can close the gender and racial pay gap.
American workers are suffering economically and fewer are earning a living wage. The situation is only worsening. We do not have a common language to talk about pay, how it works at most companies, or a cohesive set of practical solutions for making pay more fair. Most blame the greed of America’s executive class, the ineptitude of government, or a general lack of personal motivation.
But the negative effects of income inequality are a problem that can be solved. We don’t have to choose between effective government policy and the free market, between the working class and the job creators, or between socialism and capitalism, David Buckmaster, the Director of Global Compensation for Nike, argues. We do not have to give up on fixing what people are paid. Ideas like Universal Basic Income will not be enough to avoid the severe cultural disruption coming our way.
Buckmaster examines income inequality through the design and distribution of income itself. He explains why businesses are producing no meaningful wage growth, regardless of the unemployment rate and despite sitting on record piles of cash and the lowest tax rates in a generation . He pulls back the curtain on how corporations make decisions about wages and provides practical solutions—as well as the corporate language—workers need to get the best results when talking about money with a boss.
The way pay works now will not overcome our most persistent pay challenges, including low and stagnant wages, unequal pay by race and gender, and executive pay levels untethered from the realities of the average worker. The compensation system is working as designed, but that system is broken.
Fair Pay opens the corporate black box of pay decisions to show why businesses pay what they pay and how to make them pay more.
“Buckmaster, global compensation director at Nike, argues in his winning debut that America’s pay system is deeply broken. . . . Buckmaster packs his work with insight, and delivers his message in a charming, funny tone… This layperson’s guide will be a boon to anyone looking to understand the forces behind how that number got on their W-2.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Fair Pay . . . offer[s] deeply informed insight into how companies set pay rates . . . A thought-provoking counterpoint to typical fair-pay books."
"There is nothing more nuts-and-bolts about business than decisions on how to compensate employees, and there is nothing that could change the country quite so quickly or directly as tackling income inequality by paying most of them more. As Buckmaster writes, 'Now is the time to redeem the idea of fairness,' and his book is a perfect nuts-and-bolts, big picture place to start."
“We have spent a generation laboring under the strange delusion that pay increases would impoverish the country. Fair Pay is both a corrective, but more interestingly, an insiders' account of the complexities inherent in how corporations really think about pay. Fascinating and essential reading for any economic reformer, or for that matter, anyone who earns a paycheck.”
— Tim Wu, author of The Curse of Bigness and The Attention Merchants
“In order to know your worth, you need to know how comp works. Anyone who reads this book is in for a treat. David Buckmaster’s unique insight as a corporate pay leader teaches us what the person on the other side of the pay negotiation table is really thinking, and how to make sure you get what you deserve.”
— Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid
“David Buckmaster describes why the current system of pay is broken and what to do about it. Fair Pay is a timely and important call to action, especially for business leaders whose workers make too little to make ends meet.”
— Zeynep Ton, MIT Sloan School of Management and Good Jobs Institute
“Take it from an insider: companies don’t compete for wages; they coordinate, making sure that employees are left in the dark. While most people may prefer not to know how sausages are made, knowing how wages are made is crucial for every employee. A must-read for employees and policy makers who believe that reforming the system remains possible.”
— Katharina Pistor, author of The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality
"[Knezevich's] vocal character is perfect for the author's intent—to help workers negotiate fair pay for themselves and become more knowledgeable about how business and our economy work. Knezevich has a broad and appealing range, and is fun to hear as he interprets every nuance and idea in this accessible guide."
— AudioFile Magazine
"Fair Pay provides both high-level and specific recommendations for how to reform compensation . . . An important, insider perspective on the principles and tactics needed for more equitable and dynamic organizations."