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Pay Transparency

Be confident that your pay system is equitable, optimized, flexible, sustainable and competitive, no matter whether you’re working with contractors, hourly or salaried employees!


A broken pay system can cost your business time and money, while reducing your ability to make the impact in the world that inspired you to start your business in the first place.

An inequitable, unsustainable pay system can look like:

  • Being worried you’re not paying enough, especially with inflation and high cost of living

  • Some people are getting raises and others aren’t, but no one really knows why

  • Losing employees or unable to attract new employees, and it’s costing you

  • Wasting time and money or perpetuating disparity by having to make one-off decisions about important things

  • Always spending time rehashing the same problem again and again

  • Employees asking questions you don’t have clear answers to like when do raises happen?

If this is you, there’s hope.

Human Resources (HR) doesn’t have to be a dirty word or just a way for your company to protect itself legally.


HR can help your business thrive with happy employees who are supported both in their physical needs and in having a deep sense of fulfillment by aligning your business with equality, sustainability, and community.


In the Pay Transparency Package, Candice will help you align your business with these core values, so you can be competitive and confident in how you’re paying your employees.


Eliminate employee burnout through supportive pay structures that allow for rest, while also providing transparent pathways for career advancement that help increase employee retention.


Implement a flexible, cyclical compensation system worthy of sharing publicly, based on company values, living wages, and market rates that ensures you’re always equitable and competitive.


Foster a sense of belonging and ownership in your staff that brings them together in their shared purpose by including their feelings, feedback, and needs in the transparent pay process and the final system.

Channel money from your business back out into the community through paying your employees more than the bare minimum, supporting their thriving happiness as people you’re working with, not just people who are working for you.


As a relatively new Executive Director, developing an equitable and transparent compensation system for our organization was very important.  I want our staff to feel confident about their role in our organization and the way that we value their work.  Candice brought her extensive expertise and experience to the project, which was incredibly valuable. Follow through was always thorough and prompt, and Candice became a trusted advisor throughout this process, always able to help us get aligned with best practices. 


Our Board is thrilled to have a well-researched pay band structure, and our staff feels more secure knowing that there is a roadmap for compensation. We're still in the early phases of our rollout, but I feel well-equipped to take it forward!

Logan Huecker, Executive Director, Sequoia Riverlands Trust



Variability is based on # of employees, # of positions and amount of compensation data you provide for your industry

Pay Transparency Roadmap

You will receive a report at the end that includes the findings uncovered in the process, as well as how to implement your new transparent pay system immediately and year after year.


Candice will also deliver presentations to leaders and staff of your company with summaries of her findings and the report. These presentations will also provide the opportunity for your employees to provide feedback and ask questions, so they can feel included in the process and be supported in implementing the new system.


The first step toward working together is to apply. If meet our application requirements, then we'll reach out for a conversation with you.  If you don't meet the criteria, we'll let you know why and give you resources to support you at your stage in the journey.

Proposal & Timeline

Before we begin, we will send you a proposal that includes a timeline for research and deliverables.  This way you know exactly what will be happening along our three-month journey together.  This is when you decide to get started working with us.


This is when we learn all the details about your organization.  We dive deep into your job descriptions, pay rates and benefits.  We talk with you about changes that might be coming to the organization in the next year, and decide on which organization's we'll gather data from.


We're super data nerds over here.  So this is our chance to put on those nerd glasses, wade through the muck and mire of pay and gather all that juicy information that will help us build your pay system.

Present Preliminary Findings

Once we have all the numbers together and have finished the analysis, we'll tell you what we found.  The preliminary findings include an analysis of how your pay stacks up against your competitors and our recommendations.

Integrate Your Feedback

At Fortress and Flourish we believe that it's important to have an iterative process.  This means that once we've shared our research with you, we want to hear your feedback and integrate that into the reports and procedures that we develop next.

Create & Deliver Report

The Compensation Analysis Report, Standard Operating Procedure and presentations are our next stops on the trip.  If you've ever seen a compensation analysis report before, they're pretty boring.  That's not our jam though, so we do a great job of presenting the information in a beautiful and digestible format with engaging conversations.

Follow Up for COLA Support

The system that we create will support you for many years in the future.  And to keep it relevant, we recommend annual Cost of Living Adjustments.  We'll get in touch with you 6 - 9 months after the analysis to see if you want COLA support.

Download the Detailed Roadmap PDF

Download the Pay Transparency Roadmap for more detailed information about the kinds of data included in the study, what kinds of questions Candice will be asking you, how feedback is incorporated into the final report, and how this helps you plan for the future. 


Click the link to download:

Are you ready to:

  • Feel confident you’re paying market rates with competitive, living wages, even with effects of inflation

  • Have a clearly delineated process for when and how people get raises that makes this accessible for employees who wish to advance and makes it easy for the employer to provide raises fairly

  • Are retaining employees who are happy, which leads to greater wellbeing in the workplace, as well as tons of savings from not having to find and onboard new employees as often

  • Have reduced conflict and increased feelings of safety and relief in employees as they feel confident knowing they’re taken care of

  • Save time and money by having a customized resource that guides their decision making in equitable ways

  • Can focus on more meaningful ways of bringing their team together and building pathways for people to grow with the company



Our nonprofit organization has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade.  As the number of employees grew, our internal processes were not keeping pace.  We contracted Fortress and Flourish to prepare staff salary scales to create pay equity, pay transparency, and pay increase consistency. The final report is exactly what we wanted – a helpful tool that we’ll use for a long time. 

Teresa Malone, Deputy Director, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County


I appreciate Candice’s professional and warm approach to project management. I enjoyed collaborating with her! She delivered a clear, grounded presentation to our audience of nonprofit employers with meaningful takeaways. She related the material to the pandemic context of today’s work world.


Susie Polnaszek, Director, Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) of the Community Foundation for Monterey County

Meet Your Guide

Candice Elliott helps impact-driven leaders grow their team with values-aligned HR best practices.  She focuses on increasing employee retention, making work more meaningful, and of course saving $$.


Her background is in HR.  She has a Masters in HR from Penn State, the Senior Professional certification in California and has worked in the field for more than 10 years.  During the Pandemic, she supported the small business and non-profit community by giving 100s of hours of assistance to help meet the challenges of the changing world of work. 


Candice lives and works on the unceded land of Popeloutchom, home to the Awaswas speaking Uypi Ohlone, recently called Santa Cruz, California.


“Candice was incredibly warm and welcoming, immediately helping me find ways to address my concerns”

A fellow business owner recommended I reach out to Candice after I mentioned some concerns I was having with an employee. Candice was incredibly warm and welcoming, immediately helping me to find ways to address my concerns. Her answers are empathetic, thoughtful and informative. Candice provides a wealth of resources over email, through webinars, and her regular newsletters. I cannot recommend her highly enough!

 Meredith Keet, Owner, Ethos

Who is this Offer Not For?


If you are unwilling or unable to make the Living Wage the lowest amount of pay in your organization then this is not the program for you.  I will not put my stamp on a compensation system that doesn't provide for the basic living expenses that your employees have.


You can find out what the living wage is in your county here. 


If this is where you're at, you would be better served by finding out how to increase the profitability of your activities so that you can elevate your lowest paid positions to the living wage.

Candice is professional, well-informed, responsive, and community-minded. She provides comprehensive and high quality HR consulting services and generously shares her expertise through her work. 

Brooke Sampson, Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes

Creating an equitable pay system where your profitability and employees thrive can help protect you from the debilitating costs of finding and replacing lost employees.


Now more than ever, people aren’t willing to suffer through a job that doesn’t support them beyond the bare minimum.


With the Great Resignation, inflation, and social movements creating a workforce we’ve never seen before, your business can weather the storms and come out stronger on the other side by becoming an equitable part of the solution.


It’s easier than you might think to create a pay system that helps you keep up instead of playing catch up, so you can keep star employees and continue to make an impact for many years to come.

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