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EXCLUSIVE: Read the email MailChimp sent to employees denying allegations of bias after a top engineer quit

Summary List PlacementFormer MailChimp engineer Kelly Ellis announced her resignation on Wednesday in a series of tweets, accusing the company of gender discrimination and harassment on her way out the door. Ellis said she faced "sexism and bullying" and that she discovered her salary was lower than her male counterparts. A...

MailChimp

Summary List Placement

Former MailChimp engineer Kelly Ellis announced her resignation on Wednesday in a series of tweets, accusing the company of gender discrimination and harassment on her way out the door.

Ellis said she faced “sexism and bullying” and that she discovered her salary was lower than her male counterparts.

A day later, MailChimp told employees it had “thoroughly and independently investigated the allegations” Ellis had raised and “found them to be unsubstantiated.”

In an email Thursday, MailChimp chief people and culture officer Robin White said the company has taken various steps over the years to make its hiring, promotion, and pay processes less biased, including hiring an outside consulting firm, Aon Radford, to conduct a pay equity study.

That study, White said, “found that gender and race/ethnicity are not statistically significant indicators of differences in pay, and that differences in pay can be attributed to those factors we’ve established within our compensation system that are fair and reasonable.”

MailChimp did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Are you a current or former MailChimp employee with insight to share? We’d love to hear about your experiences there. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 503-319-3213), email (tsonnemaker@insider.com), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the full email MailChimp chief people and culture officer Robin White sent to employees:

Hi everyone, I want to address a sensitive situation about an employee that you may be aware of. Yesterday, one of our Principal Engineers decided to leave Mailchimp. This employee shared the news on social media and included allegations about bullying and sexism. While the specifics around their decision to leave the company are confidential, please know that we’ve thoroughly and independently investigated the allegations that were raised and found them to be unsubstantiated.

I want to be clear that Mailchimp does not tolerate any type of mistreatment, including discrimination, bullying, or harassment. It’s important to me, to Ben and Dan, and to all of our leaders, that Mailchimp is a place where all employees feel included, respected, and safe.

Mailchimp is also committed to pay equity. In 2016 we made a public pledge to pay equity for women and employees of color, and since then, we’ve implemented several measures to make sure our hiring practices and compensation structure are equitable. This included updating our hiring processes so we don’t ask people what they’re currently paid, moving promotions to a quarterly schedule with a mandatory review process, and updating our salary structures to promote equity—our latest update in 2020 more closely aligned our pay structures to the competitive market.

We know that many of you are looking for more transparency around employee pay. We’re committed to that and already have a plan for increased transparency this year, but we’ll start here and now by providing some details about our recent pay equity study and the results. Last year, we proactively commissioned an independent study by Aon Radford, a leading global compensation consultancy. The study was also supervised by external legal counsel to help mitigate any bias we might have internally, and importantly, managers were not involved in the compensation review of their teams and had no influence on the outcome.

Aon Radford took an objective look at the drivers of pay and any influence that a particular factor, such as gender or race, can have on pay differences. The goal was to understand and account for valid reasons we use internally to set pay (e.g. tenure with Mailchimp, job family, location, performance). The analysis found that gender and race/ethnicity are not statistically significant indicators of differences in pay, and that differences in pay can be attributed to those factors we’ve established within our compensation system that are fair and reasonable. In other words, Aon Radford determined that our pay packages are equitable for women and people of color, and that our existing measures are working to ensure pay equity. While we did identify a small percentage of employees paid below our new salary ranges, it was not related to equity discrepancies. Based on this data, we’re increasing base salaries for those impacted in order to bring them into their new competitive pay range during the upcoming annual merit cycle.

While the results of the study show that we’re on the right track, we also know that people may still feel they’re paid unfairly compared to their coworkers. That’s not the experience we want our employees to have—we want everyone to feel valued, respected, and to have confidence that they’re fairly compensated alongside their peers. We know there’s a lack of trust that we need to restore. It will take an ongoing commitment from our leaders, greater transparency, and tangible action to cultivate the environment we want. We’ll continue to listen to your feedback and review our processes and compensation structure at least annually to ensure our people are paid fairly. One way we’ll do this is through more frequent third-party reviews to help hold us accountable.

I hope this has answered some of your questions, and we’ll continue to share more information in the coming weeks. In the meantime, there will likely be more news articles about this situation. We’re monitoring it closely but are not commenting publicly at this time. If you receive any media inquiries asking for comment, please forward them to pr@mailchimp.com.

Please feel free to raise any concerns or questions with your manager or your department’s People Partner.

Thank you.

RW

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