One of the principles of the Cogent Consulting manifesto is that all financial information, including all salary information, is totally open. Of course, that's not so hard to deal with when there's only one or two of you at similar levels. Now, we have eight people working with Cogent, and the model is still holding strong. Come pay day, we send out a single email that has everyone's details in it.
Using this model from day one has actually been quite liberating. Financial conversations that are commonly quite taboo in Australia are totally open amongst Cogent employees. When anyone joins Cogent now, this model is one of the key points that I make to them before they start. Any potential staff have to be completely comfortable with all other staff knowing their income details. If they're not, Cogent is probably not the place for them.
Having said all of this, current Cogent staff members are all employed on a contract basis. Their rates are determined by the clients they work for, not by Cogent itself. Steve and I have decided recently to hire a permanent staff member, and of course, the same rules must apply to them. We're trying to be creative about structuring a package that is appealing to the high quality people we want to attract, but also gets us some reward for the financial risk we're taking.
It remains to be seen whether this model will work or not, but its an experiment we absolutely want to partake in. Building a company some other way isn't acceptable to us.