The Case for Pay Transparency

Mitchell_the case for pay transparency March 28, 2023 By: Barbara Mitchell

Job seekers and current staff are asking for more openness around pay, including details on salary philosophy and practices. A look at how to get ahead of those questions now.

Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about pay transparency—especially as it affects listing salary ranges on job postings. Should we be considering this, and if so, what are the implications for our current workforce and new hires?”

A: You’ve hit on a very hot topic. Pay transparency is a topic that organizations need to get more comfortable with, but it is especially critical in the talent-acquisition universe.

According to a LinkedIn survey, 91 percent of U.S.-based respondents reported that seeing the salary range on a job posting would positively influence their decision to apply. Knowing this, I would strongly urge you to include the salary range in your postings.

Even more convincing—the same survey said that 82 percent of respondents thought more positively of organizations that post salary ranges.

Pay transparency levels the playing field—and that is a very good thing.
You also should check your state laws to find out if you have no choice in the matter. At this time, 23 states or local jurisdictions already have laws requiring organizations to post salary ranges.

But no matter the case, now is a great time for all organizations to carefully revisit their salary philosophy and practices, because if you aren’t sure how pay is determined or how it is administered, you could find yourself not being able to compete for new talent or retain current staff.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you have salary ranges that are based on reputable salary surveys and valid market data for your community?
  • Do you update your pay practices at least every 18 months?
  • Are your pay practices fair? (For example, people are paid based on their skills and abilities and not penalized because of their gender, racial, sexual orientation, or any other protected category.)

Ultimately, pay transparency levels the playing field—and that is a very good thing.

You also asked whether pay transparency might affect your current workforce. The short answer is yes. If your current pay practices aren’t fairly administered and people don’t know their salary range or how jobs are slotted into specific grades, you may hear some rumblings from staff.

Now is the time to evaluate your pay practices as it’s only likely to become a bigger issue. You may find that managers have been paying people based on what the candidate asked for (a very risky strategy), or you might discover that your grades and ranges haven’t been reviewed and updated for years. Bottom line: Don’t wait to address this until you have staff coming to you asking about their pay.

Barbara Mitchell

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR, The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook, The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book, and her latest The Decisive Manager. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer? Send it to