The Power of Pay Transparency

Do you know how much your colleagues are making? What the person who did your exact job before you took home for pay and benefits? We’re betting you don’t. Mostly, because people seem to be pretty uncomfortable with talking about how much money they make. But, also, because keeping salary info “on the down low” is one way companies get sneaky and a strategy for them to spend less while employees do more – the less you know about your much you’re worth, the less they have to pay you!

This past February, Victoria M. Walker Tweeted the details of her salary working as a Senior Travel Reporter for The Points Guy… and the internet went crazy. Her Tweet received lots of attention, especially from those who saw the move as a great way to disrupt the salary-secret status quo.

We recently read a piece by Refinery 29 that explored how salary anxiety is one of the main causes of employee burnout and how, in fact, pay transparency might solve this problem.

“In other words, if you’re not getting paid what you deserve or you feel that you’re getting paid unfairly (and, in turn, you feel like you’re not valued by your employer), you’ll end up feeling unmotivated, dissatisfied, and overall, detached from work,” they share. (Sounds pretty obvious, right? Of course.)

Refinery 29 shares:
The term fairness, here, is key. Ongoing salary transparency in the workplace promotes a sense of something called procedural justice, which is perceived fairness in the way decisions are made in a company, according to Dr. Rousseau. “It actually helps, over time, to make people feel more comfortable with the HR and compensation system,” she says. Establishing that trust between worker and employee is essential for things such as retention and overall job satisfaction.


We asked Rae Hames, Sandy Chief Brand Officer,  how she feels about pay transparency. “It’s not really rocket science – pay transparency is a good thing, full stop. It’s a great tool to support equal pay for equal work, it builds a trusting relationship between employees and employers, and it can spark honest conversations about what companies really can – and can’t – afford.”

As one of the founders of Sandy, Rae has the ability to help influence companies on how to create happy employees that value their work. “As part of our consulting efforts, we work with brands to help them understand how to use their budgets most effectively, which usually includes hard conversations about where to spend and where to save; the goal is to have these debates early on, so it’s not a live debate with candidates in the mix,” Rae says. 

“For Sandy’s part, when we began publishing rates in job descriptions, we almost immediately found that the quality of applicants jumped significantly and the interview and negotiation process went smoother and faster. Not only did we feel good about creating transparency with candidates, we saw some real-life “up and to the right” KPI movement!”

But Rae also has some important advice for job seekers. “Keep in mind that the lack of pay transparency isn’t always malicious – it often comes from a lack of market knowledge or an optimistic outlook that companies will find a “diamond in the rough”. Don’t be shy to ask tough questions – understanding the budgeted pay range, a company’s policy on pay transparency, and how raises and bonuses are awarded are all fair topics to discuss when you’re seriously evaluating a new role. Knowledge is power!”


At the end of the day, Rae believes in transparency all the way! “Ultimately, I think companies who are able to provide pay transparency – both internally and externally in job listings – are setting themselves up to attract the best candidates out there by demonstrating their maturity in understanding what work costs and creating a fair and equitable workplace.”


Interested in reading the original piece? Check out the article in Refinery29 here.