Officially, Lydia Frank is PayScale’s vice president of corporate and product marketing — a promotion that was announced this month.
But parts of the job remind Frank of her first gig: crime and courts reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska’s largest daily newspaper.
Frank’s current role includes sharing PayScale’s pay equity research, which is gleaned from the company’s massive data resources. It has access to 55 million compensation profiles and millions of people fill out their worker surveys.
Frank says she brings the journalistic values of integrity, telling the truth and serving her audience to her role at the Seattle-based software company. She aims for authenticity.
“I believe all effective marketing is rooted in storytelling. The stories we tell and showcase can move people toward change,” she said. “They can enlighten, inform and shift thinking.”
PayScale releases detailed reports on pay equity and the role of gender, race, ethnicity, age, education and other differences. It lets workers figure out how their income stacks up and gives tips for negotiating salaries and raises. It helps employers manage compensation, assess wage fairness and put systems in place to ensure equity in pay and promotions.
But even with increased awareness about pay inequity, disparity stubbornly persists. Looking at gender alone, U.S. women earn only 79 cents for every $1 men make in 2019, according to PayScale.
“We haven’t seen the gap closing significantly over time,” said Frank, who has been at PayScale for nearly 12 years. “It’s hard to move numbers like that, that represent a lot of aspects of the economy. It isn’t a certain sector, it’s all sectors. There is so much bias built into our systems across society, it’s not an easy problem to change.
“The positive trend I’ve seen,” she added, “is from employees pushing for more pay transparency and companies willing to look at pay practices.”
Frank is the executive sponsor for PayScale’s IDEA team (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Advocacy) and an advisor to Seattle’s Female Founders Alliance, which supports women entrepreneurs.
We caught up with Frank for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: Our offices are right by the stadiums in downtown Seattle. The smell of hot dogs and kettle corn permeates our immediate surroundings.
Computer types: I currently have a Dell Ultrabook, but the consistent thread through my laptop choices is PC over Mac.
Mobile devices: I like to keep you guessing though, so iPhone 7 Plus.
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Slack, Ahrefs, Infogram, Tableau, Textio.
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? The double monitors are such a time saver. It’s impossible to go back to single screendom. I also love that we have many places within the PayScale office to get away from your desk and be in a different environment. PayScale also provides a lot of autonomy in general. We trust people to get their work done, so whether you’re in the office, working from home, working from a coffee shop, etc., as long as you’re showing results, face time doesn’t matter. That’s a huge benefit and something I absolutely appreciate in my day-to-day.
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? I constantly have to re-assess this. When you do work you love, it’s easy to let yourself get wrapped up in it to the detriment of things like self care and family time. PayScale is one of the few places I’ve worked that genuinely wants to ensure people are getting the rest they need to do their best work. For example, the company closes for the week of Fourth of July in a benefit we call Independence Week. When you go on vacation, you normally come back to a mountain of email or you might be thinking about work piling up while you’re gone, but when the whole company is off, it’s a really different feeling. It was so easy after that week to get through my unread emails.
Everyone has lives outside of work, and it’s alright to invest time and energy and focus on those parts of our lives outside the office. It makes us better able to engage once we’re back at work. If you never fully disengage from work, you’re not giving yourself an opportunity to fill the tank, as it were.
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? I find LinkedIn to be the best platform for work. I use it to connect and stay engaged with professional colleagues, whether it’s partners, customers, potential collaborators, other marketers, etc. The posts people create on LinkedIn tend to be more relevant for my needs. No one does their best work in a bubble. You have to get outside of yourself and your immediate organization to see the big picture and bring learning back to your own workplace. I often use LinkedIn to connect with potential speakers or panelists for events we host or are involved in as well. Additionally, when we’re hiring, it’s a great tool for connecting with passive candidates.
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? My inbox is like my brain archive, and I regularly use it to search and reference past conversations. I’ve also had this email for almost 12 years, so don’t judge me! 26,688.
When people talk about Inbox Zero, I can’t even wrap my head around it. How do you empty your inbox every day? I get a lot of cold sales outreach around marketing tech as well as pitches to write about things that we would never cover and that isn’t relevant for our audience. Scanning is my default. It takes less time than deleting.
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 15 that I’ll go to for sure, but there are quite a few more on there that are optional or reminders for myself to work on something.
How do you run meetings? My preference is to send out an agenda ahead of time so everyone comes to the meeting prepared to dive in, but if that doesn’t happen, I want to at least come to an agreement at the start of the meeting about what we’re trying to achieve so there’s mutual accountability to stay on task. I like to ensure that everyone is getting a chance to contribute. Most importantly, there should be clear action items after the meeting along with deadlines/timelines. If we wrap up a meeting and the next steps aren’t clear, then why did we just sit together for an hour?
Everyday work uniform? Jeans, Dansko clogs and a shirt in which I feel both professional and comfortable. I’ve had jobs where business suits were a requirement, and it was not a fit for me. Maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve stayed in tech.
How do you make time for family? I unapologetically leave when I need to in order to show up for my family. Thankfully, I work at a company that believes that time outside of work is just as valuable to ensuring employees are productive and engaged as time at work, so I’ve never felt like I needed to apologize.
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? My daily stress reliever is reading. It’s been my solace since I was a kid. I read for at least an hour before going to sleep every night. I also don’t do it enough, but I love a good massage. If I’m treating myself, going to a spa is at the top of my list.
What are you listening to? I haven’t managed to fit podcasts into my routine, but I’m interested in quite a few. Mostly I listen to Pandora stations to stay focused in an open-office space. Currently on rotation is either the Aimee Mann station or Rilo Kiley station on Pandora.
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? GeekWire (truly!), The Atlantic, NPR, The New York Times.
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug” by Sarah Lacy; “Better Together” by Jonathan Sposato; “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo; and “Work Rules” by Laszlo Bock.
Night owl or early riser? Having a child made me an early riser. He’s 6 now and his natural wake-up time is between 6:30 and 7 a.m., so that’s mine, too. You also become tied to the school and/or childcare schedules, so I get up early because I have to in order to get him where he needs to go on time. If I’m left entirely alone, I still can’t sleep in past 8 a.m. At this point, that feels like a luxury. I’m to bed by 10 p.m. these days because otherwise I’m dead on my feet the next day.
Where do you get your best ideas? Engaging with smart people inside and outside my organization. Creative brainstorming happens best in a group, rather than as a solo endeavor, with lots of diverse perspectives and opinions. Even if ultimately I have to step back and think about something more on my own, the best ideas always start through engaging with other people, particularly those who are different from me in some way.
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? I don’t know that there’s one particular person, but I get inspired by people who put people ahead of profit. I’m all for making money, but not at the expense of employees or customers. It matters to me to have values drive business decisions and not the other way around.