Taking a stand on transparency in recruiting

This article is the first in a series of articles and discussions that the CXR Community will be driving around Transparency in Recruiting.

Where is our voice as an industry?

Federal, state, and local governments (as well as many other public institutions and private organizations) are all weighing in on Pay Transparency driven by decades of growing social, economic, and political concerns about pay disparities with respect to gender, race, and other characteristics that aren’t relevant to whether an individual can and will do the job.

Noticeably absent is the voice of those of us who actually make our career in hiring. We believe it is time that the voice of the Talent Acquisition Industry be heard.

This is a call to action for transparency around minimally acceptable and unacceptable practices that are inaccessible or simply fail to inform each of the stakeholders responsible for hiring and managing. We hope to influence our colleagues and peers who might begin to adopt more effective, data-informed transparency practices.

As you’ll see below, we’re starting the conversation by focusing on pay transparency. However, we know there are other issues where transparency could improve our industry and its impact. Please take a moment to weigh on on what issues of transparency you see as important: Transparency in Recruiting Survey.

We’re also launching a series of discussions on these topics. Learn more

Pay transparency must be the center of pay equity conversations

“There cannot be a human-centered recovery until everyone is compensated properly, adequately and equitably.”

J.C Taylor, SHRM CEO, HR Magazine, Spring 2022

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2021, it will take another 68 years in North America for women to reach parity with men and, while pay equity is only one of the four dimensions weighted in the calculation, no one alive today is planning to wait it out.

Pay Equity, defined simply, is Equal pay for Equal Work. This is a basic labor rights concept that individuals in the same workplace be given equal pay. (In recent years the concept has been expanded to include work that is substantially similar).

While more commonly used in the context of sexual discrimination i.e., the gender pay gap, it is important to note that race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other demographic factors are a major part of the movement to address this issue at work and in the hiring process with respect to how base pay, bonuses, overtime, benefits, and advancement opportunities are determined.

What we need isn’t necessarily more laws but more access to data that informs our understanding of where we are individually, so that we can decide on how to act for ourselves and the common good. We propose the following as potential standards for pay transparency.

External transparency:

  1. All publicly advertised job openings should at a minimum include information about or, links to, the position’s wage or salary range and, where relevant, expected benefits. Employers should be prepared to identify and defend exceptions to this practice – typically one-off jobs that would have no salary history, and jobs where candidates are expected to negotiate – i.e., executive positions.
  2. Candidates who have applied for specific positions and requested salary, wage and/or benefits (at any step in the hiring process) should be responded to with either the requested information or an explanation defending why that information is not available. Failure to do so is an unacceptable hiring practice.
  3. Asking a candidate their current salary prior to sharing an expected wage or salary offer is an unacceptable pay practice. (And, in many states and cities, is now against the law.)
  4. Failing to respond to a request for pay information is an unacceptable pay practice. (And, in many states and cities, is now against the law.)
  5. Employer workarounds to avoid complying with the intent of Federal, State and Local government’s pay equity laws are unacceptable hiring practices even if they are legally permissible. (Colorado’s Pay Equity law is a notable example of non-compliance. Currently hundreds of employers intentionally exclude workers in Colorado from being considered for remote jobs by stipulating in their job ads that the remote job excludes candidates from Colorado in order to avoid publishing the wage/salary.)
  6. Print and online publishers who accept and publish job postings that intentionally skirt Federal, State and Local laws are complicit and should reject or explain the rationale (transparency) for the practice to their readers.

Internal transparency:

  1. Employers should eliminate existing rules banning discussions about pay between employees as a violation of company policy.
  2. Employers should calculate internal pay disparities around equal pay for equal or equivalent work, make their results available to employees at least annually and, upon request, at a minimum, to candidates along with actions planned to mitigate pay disparities.

This article is the first in a series of articles and discussions that the CXR Community will be driving around Transparency in Recruiting. If you are a current or former member of CXR we hope you’ll join us for our first live discussion on Thursday, May 19th. Register below.

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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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