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Key takeaways: 

  • The push toward greater salary transparency isn’t slowing down as states enact laws requiring employers to disclose wage information.
  • These changes require a shift in strategy as companies determine how to approach these newfound obligations and increasing pressure from employees and applicants.
  • Despite the challenges, pay transparency can offer many benefits, from reduced recruiting costs to improved applicant quality.

The Push Toward Pay Transparency

2023 is hailed as the year of salary transparency by Axios, as new laws in California and the state of Washington go into effect requiring employers to disclose pay ranges on job listings. This new legislation continues the trend beginning in Colorado and New York.

On top of the evolving regulatory landscape, Indeed announced in 2022 that it would begin listing estimated salary data, whether or not the employer offered that information.

It’s clear that the dialogue around pay transparency is changing, and it goes beyond just state and company requirements. While discussing salary details has traditionally been considered taboo, many of today’s employees and job prospects are changing the script.

Look no further than Salary Transparent Street, a viral TikTok series promoting pay transparency, where creator Hannah Williams asks strangers what they do and how much they make. The account has garnered nearly 1 million followers and 22 million likes since its inception.

@salarytransparentstreet #VendorManagers in Seattle, WA📍#salarytransparentstreet #salarytransparency #paytransparency #howmuchdoyoumake #talkaboutyourpay #vendormanagement #vendormanager #vendormanagersalary ♬ original sound – Salary Transparent Street

This momentum for pay transparency means considerable changes and hurdles for leaders of talent marketing and employer branding.

The Challenges Pay Transparency Creates

Salary transparency could be the future of all job postings. Already, these newfound obligations have created challenges for both talent marketing and HR leaders.

Cassandra Rose, Head of People at the lifestyle benefits platform, Fringe, told CNBC that preparing a salary range for every open position is a daunting task — one made worse by an already tight hiring market, hybrid work, and a looming economic downturn.

Cassandra said enterprises must account for how record inflation, cost-of-living increases, and Great Resignation pay bumps have caused salary ranges to skew “out of bounds,” not to mention how job titles, geographic locations, and many other elements contribute to determining a single salary range.

With so many factors to consider, it’s understandable that employers don’t want platforms like Indeed to estimate ranges on their behalf. It goes without saying that a lower-than-actual range can lead to a significant drop in applicants, and a higher-than-actual range could create unfair expectations and issues with existing employees.

These nuances have already produced some visible issues for both employers and prospective employees.

Alex Maher, Director of Talent at Artium, a California-based technology company, recently took to LinkedIn to showcase what she called a “wide gulf” in compensation ranges included in job postings following the rollout of California’s new law. Some ranges show a difference upwards of $100,000, which Alex said does not contribute to promoting greater pay equity.

Additionally, Colorado job applicants have faced their own set of issues. After the law was enacted requiring all employers to disclose salary data for open positions, some companies began advertising remote jobs available everywhere in the U.S. except Colorado, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Adapting Your Strategies

In a recent survey by the advisory firm Willis Towers Watson (WTW), 31% of responding employers stated they were not ready for increasing pressure to disclose pay, and 46% said they were putting off doing so.

Mariann Madden, North American Fair Pay Co-Lead at WTW, said in a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article that often, these companies may lack confidence in their pay programs and have concerns about their employees’ reactions to wage transparency.

Some executives fear upsetting current employees or complicating negotiations in the hiring process.

To combat this fear and move toward disclosing salary information, Mariann said education is needed to help enable recruiters, HR, and managers to effectively communicate the company’s approach to pay equity and transparency.

Mariann asked, “Will it just be compliance-only, done on a location-by-location basis, or will it be more comprehensive and applied nationwide? Will you communicate pay ranges only in job postings or more broadly to employees? And are you ready to do that?”

Not only is it important to set a strategy for the future, but Mariann also encouraged a thorough review of what’s already in place. Recruitment marketing leaders should determine if they have the job frameworks, pay structures, and governance in place to communicate these changes effectively. Reviews such as a pay equity analysis may be necessary to understand where any gaps lie, according to Mariann.

The Benefits of Salary Transparency

Disclosing salary information could pose some complex challenges; the push toward increased transparency offers benefits to both applicants and employers.

Promoting salary data can help companies gain a marketing edge, which is particularly valuable in an increasingly competitive job market. A Glassdoor survey found that an overwhelming majority of job seekers — 98% — said it would be helpful to see salary ranges included with job listings.

Julie Calli, President of, wrote, “In the aftermath of the Great Resignation, organizations have seen an outcry from employees calling for higher pay, better benefits, and an open work environment where everyone feels welcome. It’s only reasonable to expect that workers want to see salary transparency become the norm too.”

She suggests that providing salary information affords companies the opportunity to get ahead of the curve and control the narrative. Talent marketing and employer branding leaders will have the ability to paint their companies as ones who embrace change and positive cultural values.

Julie also writes that salary transparency could help employers attract more qualified talent, improve workplace happiness, and close potential pay gaps.
Some suggest that disclosing salary data can carry a financial benefit as well. Appcast, a leading job advertising platform, found a 35 percent reduction in cost-per-click ads when pay is listed in the title, compared to those that do not list pay information, as reported by SHRM.

Benchmark with Other Talent Marketing Leaders

From the shift to remote work to the Great Resignation, talent marketing and employer branding leaders have faced a lot of hurdles in recent years.

The ability to benchmark your program and strategies with other leaders facing the same challenges can be an invaluable resource.

If you lead employer brand and recruitment marketing at a large organization, you have the opportunity to get best practices and feedback on how to navigate pay transparency in the Talent Marketing Board.

The Talent Marketing Board is where senior talent marketing and employer brand leaders at large companies get unbiased peer insights in a completely confidential and vendor-free setting.

Interested in learning more?

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