Hugh Hefner’s little-known lesson for HR

Hugh Hefner, who died at the age of 91 on Wednesday, lived a life that made media headlines – in two ways. He was the proprietor of Playboy Magazine and his lifestyle attracted the gaze of red-carpet reporters as well hacks who thought something else was up.

However, during his early years, Hugh Hefner had a career hiccup that holds an HR lesson that all managers and bosses could learn from.

When he was 26, Hefner was a copywriter at Esquire. He asked for a $5 raise to make his weekly salary $60. When it was denied he quit to found Playboy. The brand went on to, at its peak, be worth roughly $400 million.

Whilst losing an employee with obvious drive and talent can be a big loss, inequitable pay levels can cause disharmony amongst workers. Last week, Deliveroo boss Will Shu gave himself a 22.5% pay rise much to the ire of those who have been watching the legal battles the firm has endured regarding perceived underpayment of his workers.

Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, commented: “Will Shu sees fit to give himself a £25,000 a year raise. He should focus on the minimum wage and holiday pay first and reward himself later.”

Furthermore, recent scrutiny on the UK’s gender pay gap has revealed that the average difference between male and female salaries in the UK is just over 18%.

The BBC were unilaterally slammed when they revealed the inequitable pay of their male and female top earners.

With new pay gap reporting legislation coming into force next year, it is likely other companies will also feel the burn of the media spotlight if they too don’t work to combat unfair remuneration.