Blog Post

It's time to #ShowTheSalary, don't you think?

By: Marco Campana
September 5, 2022

Last year on LinkedIn, I shared an interesting article about salary transparency. I didn't think it would get much attention. According to the views, reactions, and comments, it's an issue many think needs to be dealt with. So let's deal with it!

I'm not expert, but have learned from people who have commented, done a bit of research, and had an email exchange with Canada's largest nonprofit job board, CharityVillage that just left a bad taste in my mouth. In spite of acknowledging and extolling the virtues of salary transparency, they're not making it mandatory on their site. Among other things we can do, I think some collective sector pressure on them to change their approach is required.

You can start by just letting them know. Here's a small action I took after my email exchange. Like probably many of you, I had a job search notification set up with CharityVillage to keep tabs on interesting jobs in my career area, to note skill requirements, typical salary ranges, etc. I say had, because I've now deleted my account from CharityVillage. The neat thing is that they require you to email them to delete your account. This gives you an opportunity to tell them why and push salary transparency, which is what I did. 🙂

The gist if you're running an organization? Please consider revising your job postings to include a salary or salary range. There are many reasons to do this, not the least of which include diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I know you are committed to. Please have a policy to always disclose salary, as not doing so perpetuates racial and gender wage gaps.

Salary transparency just makes sense.

I've always thought so. I've always found it simply annoying and disrespectful when salary information is not included. Even more so when a posting asked a candidate to provide their salary expectations. You know one thing about nonprofits? They have pretty standard pay scales and ranges. Just post the damn thing.

Should we rely on the goodness of employers? Of course not. Change doesn't usually happen because it's the right thing to do. We have to push.

It's not a new discussion.

Not at all. In 2015, Vu Le, the awesome writer behind Nonprofit AF, wrote an excellent article outlining all the reasons why salary transparency makes sense, especially in the nonprofit sector.

What I hadn't been as aware as I should have been until more recently is just how a lack of salary transparency impacts diversity, inclusion, and equity. I work in a sector that is made up predominantly of racialized women. A lack of salary transparency impacts them incredibly negatively.

In Le's 2015 article he outlines:

"It perpetuates the gender wage gap. We all know on average women make only 78 cents for every dollar the dudes make. There are various reasons for this, but one of the reasons is that society rewards men for being aggressive negotiators while punishing women for the same thing. Having a clear range cuts down on the need to haggle, which increases gender pay parity.

It discriminates against people of color: Studies show that similar to women, people of color are also screwed over in the salary negotiation arena. Many people come from cultures where aggressive negotiation is not a norm. (Except maybe at the markets, involving my aunts and some fish). I’ve seen way too many colleagues of color take offers significantly beneath what they should be making. Transparency at the onset will cut down on this."

In 2020, he wrote about salary transparency again, outlining why any and all arguments about not being transparent about salaries simply don't hold up, ultimately pointing to the fact that "there is so much research on this topic now that we should not be wasting any more time discussing this. It’s like the fact that humans affect climate change or that IPAs taste terrible; the evidence is overwhelming. We need to be on the same page so we can help folks who still don’t understand that this is an equity issue. Let’s help them change their behavior and #ShowTheSalary and move into the future. This is one quick and simple action we can take to make our sector more equitable and inclusive." (Le is a brilliant, insightful, and engaging writer. And, of course, I also completely agree with him about IPAs (sorrynotsorry).)

So, what does that evidence look like?

In part, it creates action. It's part of why organizations like the Association of Fundraising Professionals now require "salary ranges for all new positions posted on the AFP Global Job Board": "...not including the salary range in a job posting reinforces the salary gaps we see in the fundraising profession and in all of society based on gender, race and other factors. Studies show that women and people of color often have huge disadvantages during salary negotiations. Requiring salary ranges promotes equity."

It's why on their Connect Nonprofit Jobs, the Ontario Nonprofit Network they "believe the key to recruiting and retaining top talent is by implementing decent work into all policies and processes. We have learned that when our sector’s workers can access decent work, not only do they do well, but organizations are better equipped to meet their missions, and as a result, our communities thrive. This is why all job postings on Connect Jobs must disclose pay scales and why ONN continues to research and create tools to advance decent work in our sector."

It's part of their Decent Work for Nonprofits campaign.

When sector leaders like these take a stand, we should all be listening.

In Ontario, the evidence is overwhelming enough that politicians actually took action in 2018!

Well, almost.

"In 2018, Ontario launched a 3 year strategy designed to 'close the gender wage gap, particularly where it is greatest — for Indigenous, newcomer and racialized women, and women with disabilities.' Part of that plan was the The Pay Transparency Act. https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-41/session-2/bill-203 The statute –was scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019 and would make the following changes:

  •    Salary rates or ranges must be stated in all publicly advertised job postings;
  •    Candidates may not be asked about their past compensation;
  •    Reprisals cannot be made against employees who discuss or disclose compensation;
  •    Employers with one hundred or more employees and prescribed employers must track and annually report compensation gaps based on gender and other prescribed characteristics in pay transparency reports;
  •    The province must also publish pay transparency reports."

The Pay Transparency Act is ready for us to inform our Ontario government they should pass it into law (OK, maybe the next government...).

Federally, new pay transparency measures came into force on January 1, 2021 in federally regulated workplaces: "These new pay transparency measures will raise awareness of wage gaps experienced by women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities working in federally regulated workplaces. By releasing data on wage gaps, the Government of Canada expects these measures to:

  •    help reduce wage gaps;
  •    shift business culture and expectations toward greater equality; and,
  •    lead to better outcomes for workers and their families.

These new measures apply to federally regulated private sector employers with 100 or more employees covered by the Employment Equity Act and place Canada as the first country to make this information for the four designated groups publicly available."

In 2018, a Maclean's poll found that nearly three quarters of Canadians want pay transparency in order to address pay equity (wage gaps) that hit "women of colour, trans women, Indigenous women and those with disabilities" particularly hard.

The support for pay and salary transparency is moving in one direction. Forward.

And it's not just a Canadian issue. Or just a nonprofit issue. It's global and in all sectors.

I'm aware now of at least 2 global campaigns for salary transparency.

The U.K.-based campaign Show The Salary "was born out of frustration at the lack of action being taken to address pay gaps and inequity in the charity sector. At the heart of our campaign is a commitment to fairness and equity, and to the people with lived experience of the impact of salary secrecy." Their resource section is full of useful links and articles from such controversially leftist publications as Harvard Business Review. 🙂

Show the Pay is another U.K./Europe site that looks at salary transparency broadly, not just in the nonprofit sector. It seeks to educate job seekers as well as employers.

You want research about salary transparency? It's not hard to find.

And all of it appears to consistently agree that it's good for business: "When companies have transparent pay practices in place, they’re more likely to be competitive in attracting and retaining talent."

So, hey you, employer. Post your jobs with salary information. And when they don't, we should all tell them why they should.

And job boards like CharityVillage? Yeah, I'm talking directly to you now. You post a regular Canadian Nonprofit Sector Salary & Benefits Report. You even have articles about why salary transparency is good. You're so, so close! You're a bit behind the global curve, but why not catch up, even show some leadership, and make salary information mandatory.

Toronto-based FoodShare recently wrote an open letter on salary transparency to CharityVillage that is essential reading:

"Research shows that salary negotiation processes lead to inequitable wage gaps, with Black people and women receiving lower wages than their colleagues. Publicizing pay ranges is widely recommended as one way to mitigate the racial and gender bias that shows up in salary negotiations and is one reason that FoodShare posts our pay grid publicly on our website, in addition to listing compensation details in our job postings.   

We also know that you already know this. There is a post on the Charity Village website titled, 'In everyone’s best interest: why you should disclose salary in your job postings,' where you acknowledge that fewer than half of the job postings on your own website show the salary range and that not posting the salary range is an equity issue."

What do you think?

What can we do collectively to ensure salary transparency is a must-have, not a nice-to-have in your organization, and in job boards we all use?

The article I shared clearly struck a nerve. Let's take that momentum and do what we can to make sure all orgs and job boards #ShowTheSalary.

You can start by making sure your organization includes salary information on all job postings.

You can tell CharityVillage to make salary information mandatory.

You can comment on job posts here on LinkedIn that don't have salary information. Ask them to include the information. Use the hashtag #ShowTheSalary so we can collectively join a global campaign (and even track where it comes up).

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