Do you remember the first time you figured out someone made way more money than you? I do. It was one of my first jobs. I think I saw a piece of paper with salaries on a desk near year-end. While the scenario isn’t so memorable, the feeling? That was unforgettable.
First, I remember thinking that was a LOT of money. I grew up with a single, active-duty military parent. I didn’t remember my Mom making that much in her entire career, let alone within the first five years of working.
That wasn’t the memorable feeling, though. The memorable one was when I realized the salary I was looking at was someone who had the same job title as I did. He was getting paid a lot more than I was.
That angry feeling washed over me from head to toe. “It should just be equal. It should be fair.” I stomped out of my office and into the elevator to try and cool off. No one prepares you for that moment in marketing class or life. I had no clue what to do.
Today I’m pretty sure the answer here is “call a complaint hotline.” The answer at the time? Try not to explode every time that person didn’t deliver work on schedule or the same results. For me, paying someone who was hired a week before me with similar experience way more money was a deal-breaker. How could I trust anything after that?
Pay Transparency 2021: Colorado Is Moving The Bar
If you’re reading this for advice on pay equity, I’m not a lawyer. None of these recommendations are verbatim lawyer stuff. I did talk to a lawyer to get advice before writing my post today—shoutout to Eric Meyer for the time and Twitter for making the introduction.
Pay transparency is just that – a trust builder. Once it’s gone, there’s no going back or getting unadulterated creativity out of your team. It’s worse when people lie about things they “can’t do” and then offer that same salary or benefits to others. It’s also a bottom-line. No one is taking a job without knowing the salary at some point in the interview process.
As of January, companies in Colorado and anyone hiring remotely won’t have the option to be opaque on pay any more. (Thanks to my friend Wyndi Skillrud for sending me the update). Colorado has passed some first-in-the-nation requirements that employers will have to include salary and benefits in job postings, even for positions that will not or may not be filled in Colorado.
The proposed EPT Rules would require that the following compensation and benefits information be included in external and internal postings in the case of a promotion (lifted this from a more comprehensive, legalese article you can read here):
- “The hourly rate or salary compensation (or a range thereof) that the employer is offering for the position, including any bonuses, commissions or other forms of compensation that are being offered for the job.
- A general description of all employment benefits the employer is offering for the position, including health care benefits; retirement benefits; any benefits permitting paid days off, including sick leave, parental leave, and paid time off or vacation benefits; as well as any other benefits that must be reported for federal tax purposes; but not benefits in the form of minor perks.”
Here’s the real kicker. Employees may file a written complaint with the director of the Colorado DOL. A violation can cost employers between $500 and $10,000 per violation. Bless the heart of the people who have to look at all these job postings.
Why You Shouldn’t Be So Scared To Post Salary and Benefits in Job Postings
The costs aren’t the scariest part if you ask me. First, this includes remote jobs. If you’re doing nationwide hiring, make sure you’re on top of this code.
Second, when Colorado starts putting their salaries online, it changes the playing field for cities trying to compete in the great race to collect remote workers. Employers in other areas need to consider: Do we want to be upfront about salary?
My gut says go for it. I realize big companies can’t just decide to do this, but what’s the harm in being honest about total compensation instead of saving it for the end and creating heartbreak? My friend Amy always says the earlier, the better when it comes to salary. Why not move it to the first impression? Why not just tell people the salary and benefits in job postings?
I’m confident you have a few “oh God no” answers or questions, and you should go ahead and post those in the comments.
Bottom line – it all goes back to trust for me. Keeping salary a secret creates an emotional liability, especially when there are instances that people lie or double standards exist. Take a note from Colorado and publish your salary bands.
Katrina (Kat) Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive, unbiased job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.