If compensation were transparent

Why don’t we advertise salary information? Every time this question comes up, it makes people shiver. We’ve voices inside our heads that tell us this is a seriously bad idea. I keep asking myself, “How did those voices get there?”

Would gender parity be an issue in the UK (where firms are required to calculate and publish the % disparity) if we all knew what each of us made? Would we be debating our response to the salary question if we knew what those who are doing the job well were getting paid? If adjustments to those paid too little were made in real time? If market pricing were accurate and available on demand? If the paths to the next levels of compensation were clearly spelled out?

This isn’t about unions or socialism. It’s about the evidence being in everyone’s hands. The future of work could put the details of nearly anyone’s compensation in the public domain. What if we didn’t keep telling ourselves, “This is a bad idea” and instead just figured out how to do it.

[Pay Equity: Beyond compliance, the salary question]

What if compensation were a known factor?

Would you want to have access to this data – not in general but specifically – for everyone you work with? Would you care that your co-workers, peers and colleagues know what you are paid and why? You might be surprised what happens when a company makes compensation truly transparent. As Bruce Eckfeldt recently surmised, there’s a better way.

His article offers five benefits of making compensation known:

  1. Simplifies the compensation review process.
  2. Focuses on role performance, not negotiation skill
  3. Provides a clear path for future growth
  4. Reduces gender and racial biases
  5. Creates transparency and accountability

It would certainly take some skills to manage the conversations as these changes take place. I think I’d rather have those conversations than continue to argue with those voices in my head. 

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Gerry Crispin

Gerry Crispin

Gerry co-authored eight books on the evolution of staffing and has written 100s of articles and whitepapers on similar topics during a career in Human Resources that spans more than 40 years from HR leadership positions at Johnson and Johnson; to boutique Executive Search firms; a Career Services Director at the University where he received his Engineering and 2 advanced degrees in Organizational/Industrial Behavior; and, GM of a major recruitment advertising firm even as he launched CareerXroads 25 years ago.


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