How salary transparency can affect your job search or raise

How salary transparency can affect your job search or raise

Whether you are being paid fairly for the work you do is a mystery shrouded in a lack of information. However, that may be changing, and pay transparency may be the catalyst. It is a growing trend for companies to disclose what a vacancy or current position pays, either voluntarily or because governments require it.


So far, about a dozen states and municipalities have mandated access to wage information, including California, Colorado, Washington and New York City. Companies in jurisdictions are generally required to post salary ranges indicating the minimum and maximum pay. The rules vary: sometimes only job applicants must be informed, while other times current employees can also request information about their pay range.

Roberta Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting in Boston, advises companies looking for top-tier talent. She believes that salary transparency “is a step in the right direction.”

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“Knowledge is power. So, you know, if you have no idea that you could possibly make more money, then you wouldn’t even ask for it,” says Matuson.


Pay transparency won’t eliminate wage bargaining, says Lexi Clarke, vice president of people at Payscale, a national provider of data and compensation services. Instead, Ella Clarke says she will encourage discussions about current and future salary expectations.

It will help employees and candidates “understand what their expectations should be, and where the limits are (salaries) and where there might be flexibility. It levels the playing field between employers and candidates to have a more open and transparent conversation,” he says.

And Lulu Seikaly, senior corporate attorney at Payscale, notes that as current laws stand, employers are not precluded from offering pay above the published range for a position, as long as the company can provide objective reasoning for the exception.

In the past, companies often based salary offers on what a person earned at their previous jobs, Seikaly says. “Many states have now banned it.”

If a potential employer asks about your salary history, Matuson says, “I wouldn’t balk at answering; I’d say, ‘Okay, tell me what you’re offering for this position.'” He would just turn the question around.”


Pay transparency reveals salary ranges, but does it reduce gender and ethnic pay gaps? It may be too soon to tell.

However, Payscale’s Clarke says organizations that are more open about pay often have a well-defined compensation structure and are less likely to have pay inequities.

She predicts how the gender pay gap could be narrowed: “Women’s wages will rise to where they should be; some overpaid men’s wages may drop slightly, to be more in line with where they should be.”

Read the full story and more of this week’s top financial news:

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