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Why at Snakk Media, the hot shots don’t get paid that much more, how it made to the ‘Best for Workers’ list

Esquire magazine describes the B Corp as having the potential to be like ‘civil rights for the blacks or voting rights for women – eccentric unpopular ideas that took hold and change the world’.

And mobile advertising company Snakk Media’s CEO Mark Ryan wants the company to trigger that sort of change, from ground up, at the employee level. If you had at some point worked at Snakk, he would love to have Snakk be that company you list on your resume, as the one that has transformed your outlook on why you are doing what you do. He wants staff at Snakk, who have worked there, to begin that change process, of looking at themselves and the world around them through a different looking glass in an environment created by Snakk.

That’s why the rules are a bit different at Snakk. The great divide, according to Ryan, between the top and lowest paid employee, isn’t that great. You don’t have to be in the office 100 percent of the time. Staff can opt for telecommuting or flexi time. Everyone in the team has some ‘skin in the game’, through share options. These are just some of the company’s employee philosophy.

Snakk works hard at making the company a top-class workplace. Snakk is one of only 1,257 B Corp companies in the world listed as a B (B for Benefit) Corp, also the only public company currently on the list. The B Corp list consist of companies that have put themselves through an audit process to meet standards of transparency, accountability and performance. 

Early April, Snakk was listed, for the second year running as ‘Best for Workers’ among B Corps. The accolade is a big deal as Snakk Media is the only public company in the world, and the only one in Australasia to make the Best Workers list with just under 100 candidates.

Idealog got Mark Ryan, CEO of Snakk Media, to talk about why being a part of B Corp matters to the company.

Q: How did you make it to the Best for Workers Index?

A: We became B Corp certified in 2013 and we were one of the first public companies in the world to do so. This means we’ve met a number of rigorous social and environmental performance standards required to become a certified B Corp.

Then we were benchmarked across a range of criteria, including its health and wellness programs, parent-friendly flex-time and leave policies, salary compensation and benefits, professional development and company ownership opportunities.

Q: What did Snakk do specifically, to get on the list?

A: In the early days, we held a series of surveys and workshops so the entire team could define what values we wanted to live by and be accountable to. As a team we arrived at Integrity, Vitality, Heart, Continuous Improvement and Achievement. We partnered with Inside80, a specialist coaching company, to roll out a six month long Personal Performance Program. Their unique ‘Brain Body Belief’ method works on all aspects of our people’s energy systems – from working out physically, to achieving the optimal nutrition, improving work-style balance, or simply learning how to be happy within themselves. Here are some what we commit to, as a company.

  • Workstyle balance
    In terms of balance while at work, everyone opts for a mix of telecommuting and flexi-time. People have worked this way since the company was founded.
  • Employee benefits
    We continue to develop Snakk’s Employee Benefits programme. Our people already have their health cover subsidised, can access gym memberships and enjoy annual length of service rewards.
  • Employee Share Options Plan
    We launched our world-class Employee Share Options Plan in December 2013. By allowing each team member to own part of the company, we’re making Snakk much more than just a day job for them. Everyone’s got skin in the game.
  • Tight pay disparity
    There’s not much difference between our highest paid employee and our lowest paid worker. We don’t have a top heavy senior team when it comes to salaries, which is something you don’t see too often in the fast-growing tech, advertising and media industries. We pay our people well, but you won’t see any of us running around in ferraris.
  • Community
    We’ve set aside one day a quarter for each team member to make a difference in the community as part of our growing social impact agenda.

Q: Why is being on the list important to Snakk?

A: At Snakk we want our people to be successful. Not just at work, but in life. Happiness, health, attitude, and our everyday outlook all contribute to our performance; in our jobs, in our relationships and in our communities. I want Snakk to be the company where people don’t just do incredible work, but working here allowed them to look at themselves and the world around them in a way they hadn’t done previously. I want Snakk to be that one company on their resume that really helped them understand their purpose, both personally and professionally.

What it takes to be a B Corp

Loves peanut sauce, tennis, taichi, stockmarkets, and cool entrepreneurs – not necessarily in that order. In her previous reincarnations, she was an intranet worker bee at Mercer HR Consulting, a Reuters worker ant, and a NZ Herald mule.

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