Three Years of Pay Parity: Lessons in Maintaining Equality

This month, McAfee celebrates three years of maintaining pay parity. Compensating employees equally for their contributions, regardless of gender or ethnicity, is one of the many ways we create a culture where all can belong and an environment where everyone is valued.

But equal pay sounds like a given, right?

It absolutely should be. However, unconscious bias and a slew of contributing factors, such as differences in how men and women negotiate pay raises and starting salaries, means inequality can slowly creep in across a business and become pervasive unless actively monitored. This means maintaining pay parity requires constant work and attention.

As the first cybersecurity company to achieve pay parity, we know first-hand the commitment involved in such an undertaking. We also know the overall impact for our employees, including greater trust, engagement, and loyalty. More than this, we believe simply, that pay parity is the right thing to do.

Today, I’m sharing more about our journey, our process, and our work to maintain pay parity.

How we began

Our pay parity journey began in 2018. Few companies had achieved pay parity at the time, but we realized it was an essential part of ‘walking the walk.’ It’s well documented that diverse teams perform higher, and when employees feel seen and valued for their contributions, they are more productive and increasingly innovative.

We developed a framework and conducted our first annual audit in late 2018. At the time, McAfee had experienced various changes. We had been a public company, then acquired by a $70 billion hardware company, and later sold to private equity. The result of all this change and being a newly private company creating a new identity and standing up new programs, had led to inconsistencies. The results revealed pay disparities across nine of our 45 countries. With our Board’s full support, we were unwavering in our commitment to resolve swiftly and invest in adjusting salaries immediately to ensure full pay parity in that year. Once we dissected the data, we couldn’t wait to reach parity over time, it had to be immediate. We also had full commitment to put measures in place to maintain any pay parity ‘drift’.

Our process

In its simplest form, we adhere to the following framework for achieving and maintaining pay parity:

  • We define. Pay parity means fair and equal pay for employees in the same job code, grade level and location, regardless of gender or ethnicity.
  • We analyze. We first audit employee job codes for accuracy and then group employees by job code. We apply controls for pay differentiators such as performance, tenure, and experience.
  • We adjust. After meticulous evaluation with the business, we make any pay adjustments.
  • We uphold. In addition to annual analysis, we keep parity at the forefront throughout the year—from our hiring practices to how we promote and reward our employees.

Staying the course

Maintaining pay parity is a year-long exercise and is now part of our culture. At McAfee, we run quarterly audits and use a third-party vendor to help remove the notion of any perceived bias and subjectivity. If discrepancies are identified, we address them immediately.  It’s important to note that pay parity can change daily based on new hires coming in and market changes. So, it can’t be a once-a-year review, you have to stay on top of it to ensure your organization is at parity.

We also work hard to keep pay parity front of mind for people leaders and hiring managers. Through regular training on diversity topics, we remind people leaders of the science behind unconscious bias and how to overcome it. To further remove any bias, we overlay promotions, awards, and relevant employee programs with a Diversity Impact Analysis to ensure allocation of awards is statistically aligned to the diverse population of that team or organization.

It’s the combination of these efforts that resulted in an exciting milestone: our latest independent audit revealed no disparity. This tells us our commitment to equality permeates our culture. The absence of any discrepancies did not happen by accident – it’s the result of intentional focus from our leaders, recruitment team, and hiring managers.

What the future holds

Since we began our journey three years ago, the world has experienced tremendous change and challenging times – some may feel more divided than united. This makes our commitment to pay parity and building an inclusive culture even more important.

We will continue to maintain parity, ask what we can do better, and share the best practices we continue to follow, as well as learnings along the way.

Ready to join a company that stands for equality? Search our openings at

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