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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 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.

Following the introduction of Iceland’s pay equity law in 2018, I wondered how Palantir might confidently design a system of equal pay for the same responsibilities, not just at a fixed point in time, but throughout an individual’s tenure at the company.  I also wondered how we could draw upon bias-interruption research to ensure that team members received fair and equal treatment when it came to career advancement and promotion.

The answers to those questions has driven the human side of our agile transformation, and resulted in the creation of:

  • 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, which provides a peer-coaching framework instead of a traditional manager/supervisor relationship. 
  • A role-based structure (RBS) career path framework to help team members understand what kinds of behaviors add value to us as a company, how those behaviors evolve throughout the employee lifecycle, and how they will be recognized. 

Taken together, those three elements form the strategic core of our approach to become a human-centered company that is not dependent on 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 that is not subject to the judgment (or biases) of a single manager or supervisor. 

The rubric recognizes that there are multiple paths 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.) and “system and consulting skills” (i.e., delivering, strengthening, and consulting), representing a broad range of knowledge and expertise in a number of areas that apply to all roles at Palantir. Each of these identified skills have associated observable behaviors for each of the competency levels (learning, practicing, teach/mentor, innovate and scale). The overall goal is to encourage the development of “T-shaped” individuals 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.

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