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Nov 14, 2023

In episode 85 of Mission: Impact, Carol Hamilton and Mala Nagarajan discuss organizational development, compensation structures, and critical discussions within nonprofit organizations. They explore the limitations of market-based compensation, the concept of a thriving wage, and the importance of aligning organizational values with employee compensation. Mala emphasizes the need for transparent and comprehensive approaches to compensation, touching on various factors such as areas of responsibility, risk assessment, and the significance of understanding one's relationship with money. In addition they explore how to integrate compensating for the emotional labor required in a role. They discuss the complexities of legal considerations and highlight the need for organizations to reevaluate traditional practices to foster a more equitable and holistic work environment.


02:27: Creating equitable compensation models for organizations

04:50: Principles underpinning the work 

08:16: The importance of interdependence 

13:08- Transparency in compensation 

16:21 Emotional labor and compensation

26:00 - Recognizing individual strengths and aligning them with organizational roles beyond just financial incentives

32:00 - Biases and values embedded in market-based compensation structures

37:00 - Implementing a thriving wage, distinct from a living wage 

45:00 - The "conditions for readiness" necessary for successful implementation 

53:00 - Assessing risk tolerance 

Guest Bio:
Mala Nagarajan is a senior HR consultant who works with nonprofit organizations rooted in racial and social justice values. She is driven by a vision of strong organizations working collaboratively toward a common purpose and approaches her HR work with a values-aligned, people-centered, and movement-oriented lens. Mala is a consultant with RoadMap, a national network of consultants who work with social justice organizations. She helped organize RoadMap’s HR/RJ (racial justice) working group. Mala has developed an innovative Compensation Equity Process and Calculator™ that reverse-engineers supremacy out and re-engineers equity in. It’s an evolving approach accompanied with a custom tool that organizations can use to shift from a market-based to an anti-racist compensation model that centers those living at the intersections of multiple marginalized communities.

Important Links and Resources:


Mala Nagarajan -

Vega Mala Consulting | 

Marilyn Waring TED talk on what the GDP misses --


The MIT Living Wage Calculator:

Hidden Brain episodes on budgets:

Learn more about Mala’s compensation work here: Fund the People: Compensation PhilosophyNPQ-Compensation Equity: A Values-Based Framework & Implementation GuideTop Tips to Stop Widening the Wealth GapWhy Radical Human Resources is Critical for Movement OrganizationsEquitable Compensation is a Risk Worth TakingBrave Questions: Recalculating Pay EquityDon't Put Metal in the Microwave and other Compensation MythsTransforming the Workplace: HR InnovationsPay Scale Equity Process and Calculator.  


HR resources: RoadMap Consulting: Human Resources and Justice: Addressing Racism and Sexism in the Workplace. Washington Nonprofits: Workers in Nonprofits. The Management Center: Making Compensation More Equitable.

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