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Choosing Your Own Career Adventure

How our growth and development scaffolding support choice and equity

Two large multicolored plus symbols surrounded by many smaller plus-plus symbols

Palantir’s work to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) can be seen in the evolution of our compensation, performance, and reporting structures over the last few years. While many large corporations have made significant investments in DEIJ efforts over the past decade, nearly half of Americans work at small businesses.

For sustainable progress to be made, small businesses have to be part of the solution.

After Iceland’s pay equity law was introduced in 2018, I wondered how Palantir might confidently design a system of equal pay for the same responsibilities - one that wasn’t fixed at a static point in time, but one that applied throughout a Palantiri’s tenure with the company. I also wondered how we could utilize bias-interruption research to ensure that team members received fair and equal treatment when it came to career advancement and promotion.

These questions - and the answers to them - were the driving force behind the human side of our agile transformation.

Here's what we've created:

  • A leveled pay grid that clearly and consistently establishes compensation based on an individual’s level of responsibility within the company
  • A professional and organizational development (P.O.D.) structure for team members that provides a peer-coaching framework instead of the traditional manager/supervisor relationship
  • A role-based structure (RBS) career path framework that helps team members understand the behaviors that add value to us as a company; how those behaviors evolve throughout the employee lifecycle; and how they will be recognized 

These three elements form the strategic core of our approach toward becoming a human-centered company not dependent upon any one person. By establishing and communicating a scaffolding for individualized career development across disciplines, we are able to create a set of shared expectations for growth and advancement not subject to the judgment (or biases) of a single person - manager, supervisor, or otherwise. 

This rubric recognizes the multiple pathways to a successful career, incorporates diverse experiences and strengths, and does not presuppose that advancement is intrinsically valuable to each individual. 

Within our RBS, each discipline has:

  • Foundational skills that represent the depth of knowledge and expertise in a particular area of execution (i.e., engineering, project management, leadership, etc.)
  • System and consulting skills that represent a broad range of knowledge and expertise in areas that overlap with all our roles at Palantir (i.e., delivering, strengthening, and consulting)

The above skills have observable behaviors that correlate with each of our competency levels: learning, practicing, teaching/mentoring, innovating and scaling. 

Our overall goal is to encourage the development of “T-shaped” individuals - those who demonstrate deep expertise within their core discipline, but are also knowledgeable or skilled in several others. 

The advancement process is initiated and led by each team member and is based on demonstrated behaviors documented by the individual and their two P.O.D. representatives. While the P.O.D. representatives provide support and feedback throughout the process, they do not lead it, relinquishing the assumption of a hierarchy in the relationship. Built-in checks and balances work along with the established pay grid to deliberately anticipate and mitigate individual discretion and bias.

In life there are often multiple good choices in any given situation, and which is best depends on context. In this case, growth is a personal (not a personnel) decision and the best path will always be the one that each person chooses for themselves. We work to help our team members identify that that path aligns with and enhances their own self-perceived and valued strengths, interests, and motivations. 

As a small company, the growth of each team member can have significant impacts on the company. We are committed to providing those growth opportunities and recognizing growth realized equitably among those who choose to be here.

Let’s work together.

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