February 11, 2022

It may be a candidate’s market, but plenty of employers are still not transparent about salaries despite the fact that a policy of pay transparency could enhance recruiting efforts

Earlier this month US journalist, Victoria M Walker, caused a sensation on social media after she quit her job and tweeted the salary and bonuses she had received for the benefit of future applicants.

Walker, who worked as a senior travel reporter at The Points Guy, shared that she had embraced the great resignation and left her position after three years.

She went on to reveal the salary she had earned and encouraged anyone applying for her old role to request more than she received.

“Oh! Before I forget – if you apply for my old job as Senior Travel Reporter, you should ask for no less than $115,000 (£85,000), a signing bonus [and] a relocation bonus if you’re moving to [New York City].

“In full transparency, I was at $107,000 (£79,000). I believe being transparent is one way to achieve equity in media,” Walker revealed.

She added: “I debated whether I wanted to be so transparent but as journalists, we cannot demand transparency from powerful entities without being willing to do the same ourselves. So, #shareyoursalary.”

The tweet went viral – quickly garnering close to 80,000 likes and more than 6,000 retweets – with Twitter users praising the 28-year-old for pushing for pay transparency.

One Twitter user wrote: “I love this. I never understand why salary is something we all whisper about. More transparency will help everyone! Good on you for sharing.”

Another responded: “Yes. Secrecy around pay only benefits employers. Every job posted has an associated pay range. It’s time everyone knew how much that is.”

And another shared: “At my last job we were told point-blank not to discuss salaries. Many of us did so quietly, so we would know why it was all a secret. Turns out the men were making on average twice what the women were in similar positions. At least three of us used the info to ask for and get raises.”

Walker’s tweet may have taken off but it comes as a survey, commissioned by the Trades Union Congress, of almost 3,000 workers in the UK found that a fifth have been banned from discussing their pay with fellow staff members.

Of those surveyed, only one in five (18 per cent) said their workplace had a transparent pay policy.

That’s not really much of a surprise given that talking about pay, much like politics and religion, has long been considered a taboo topic. But pay transparency within the workplace can benefit us all –  particularly women.

The average gender pay gap in the UK is currently calculated to be 11.9 per cent for full-time workers. Translation? For every £1 a man earns, a woman would earn just short of 89p for doing exactly the same role. If you’re a woman reading this week’s Optimal blog, this must be frustrating, to say the least.

Of course, pay transparency isn’t just the right thing to do: in some cities and states it’s become a legal requirement. In both New York City and the US state of Colorado, companies are no longer allowed to ‘conveniently’ omit the salary from their Job Ads.

The move has been hailed as a game-changer and a big win for job hunters and existing employees alike.

Still on the fence as to whether your company should adopt pay transparency and share employees’ salaries? Here are four benefits for businesses.

Happier and healthier employees
When employees are able to compare salaries, they might realise that they are being paid the going rate and spend a lot less time being dissatisfied. When staff are confident that their salary aligns with their skills, experience, and results, their morale and engagement improves.

Motivation increases
Employers may also find that workers are more motivated when they know what more senior staff are being paid. Transparency allows staff to see the financial rewards of career progression, and work harder to achieve it.

Bias is reduced
Most importantly, salary transparency reduces not only gender but ethnicity and background biases behind wage gaps. Adhering to pay transparency means there is less opportunity for bias to creep into salary figures. By sharing pay information openly, companies are more likely to correct any salary inequalities and examine the factors behind them.

Candidate attraction improves
In a competitive job market, pay is a major factor in whether a candidate takes a position – or even applies in the first place. Businesses who are open about the wages they pay can attract better, more diverse talent.
From an employees’ point of view, companies who are on board with pay transparency send out a message that they are fair employers ​​who can be trusted, and are serious about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Our message? Doing things the way we’ve always done them in the past isn’t going to help organisations get ahead. So go forth and start some conversations about salaries, and share enthusiastically and openly!

Daniel Fellows

*Image  by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash