The 2021 ServiceNow Salary Influence Survey was an openly published survey that ran from September 27, 2021 to October 19, 2021 with the purpose of improving the ServiceNow community’s understanding of compensation in the industry. The analysis continued the investigation from the previous year’s survey to identify which features of an individual’s profile most significantly influenced compensation as well as provide the more traditional compensation tables to assist members of the ServiceNow community in determining their worth. The survey analyzed 523 different variations in splitting the data on the features generated from 35 different questions. The following pages of the document describe detailed findings and descriptions of the data collection, processing, and analysis.

The source code for the tool used to perform the analysis can be found here.

Summary of Findings

Last year’s findings found that compensation was heavily influenced by demographic factors and it found very limited influence from features more traditionally associated with success such as skill, training, effort, and performance. This year’s survey attempted to expand on those findings by investigating other possible explanations. Ultimately, nearly all of last year’s findings were validated by this year’s survey data:

  1. Compensation is still complicated
  2. Demographics still drive compensation
  3. The gender pay gap still exists
  4. The racial pay gap still exists

Additionally, the data this year expanded on these findings providing more insight and clarifying some of last year’s findings. The following discussion will cover these new findings:

  1. Commissions Are King
  2. Variable Compensation is Critical
  3. It’s Who You Know
  4. Disparity Affects More Than Pay

Commissions Are King

The first major finding is that commission based pay is king. Most of the respondents who reported earning a commission in this survey were in the top quartile of earners in the survey with all of them earning above median. No other feature predicted upper quartile compensation as clearly as earning a commission. This also helps clarify last year’s finding that “Risk and hard work can pay off.” In fact, that finding may be lass accurate than originally thought. Those who earned a commission had similar base salaries to those who did not earn a commission. A similar pattern was found in other variable compensation as well indicating that variable pay may be more of an icing on the cake than a calculated risk.

Variable Compensation is Critical

The importance of variable compensation in general can not be understated. Aside from commissions, other variable pay structures such as hourly work or bonuses also predicted higher compensation. Similarly, their base pay did not significantly deviate from the norm and it appears that most variable pay is simply in addition to mostly normal base salary.

It is also worth noting that the populations earning variable compensation did not reflect the populations that reported participating in sales, pre-sales, or other additional work outside the typical role. This implies that there may be individuals who either through lack of awareness or lack of pursuit are not benefiting from the pay structures of others performing similar work.

It’s Who You Know

A common refrain is “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and this year’s analysis found this to be the case in the ServiceNow industry. Professional relationships had a positive correlation with compensation. From peers all the way through executive management, individuals who reported close relationships were more likely to earn more. Further, both strength of the response and seniority of the relationship correlated with increasing compensation. In particular, executive relationships were the most predictive of the highest compensation.

Disparity Affects More Than Pay

The gender pay gap and racial pay gap were largely confirmed both last year and this year. Last year’s survey failed to find an adequate explanation for the difference. Both women and minorities by all measures collected in last year’s survey should have earned on par or more than the rest of the survey population often working harder and with higher education with little difference in duties. This year’s data compounds some of last year’s disheartening findings. It appears as though the disparities affect more than just compensation. Women for example are less likely to have professional relationships with senior management and executive management as well as reporting more neutral professional relationships. They are also less likely to earn variable compensation structures and did not report significant participation in commission based pay. Black, African, and Caribbean respondents reported less participation in variable based compensation as well but still reported professional relationships that reflect the population norm. These factors are likely influencing both pay gaps but this leaves many questions on how this can be addressed and who should bear the responsibility.