Top 10 reasons why companies don’t share the salary (hint they are not good reasons)

Top 10 reasons why companies don’t share the salary (hint they are not good reasons)
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM / Unsplash

I have worked in Human Resources for almost 20 years now. I have seen a lot of things. I have hired thousands of people, helped them return from work, fired people, negotiated salaries, broke up a near fist fight and had to sift through a 45 page letter from an employee who was tired of the state of the company kitchen and proposed an eight-part plan to fix it.

Someone asked me the other day what the stupidest thing I had seen a company do. My answer was simple. The stupidest thing I have seen companies do is not provide pay transparency. AKA — NOT TELLING SOMEONE HOW MUCH YOU WANT TO PAY THEM.

Not telling someone in a job posting how much you are going to pay them to me says the following:

We don’t value your time or our hiring team—we are willing to drag you through three interviews only to find out that we don’t pay enough.

We don’t value women, People Of Colour or any marginalized community because pay transparency provides these groups the opportunity to enter the negotiation on fair footing.

Pay transparency does not allow companies to play the stupid game of—how much do you currently make? And then low ball candidates accordingly.

We don’t have a solid compensation strategy.

If you did, you would be proud of how you pay your staff and should not be scared that your current employees will find out that you are underpaying them.

But Allison, this sounds terrible, you yell. Companies must have some reason for doing this! Well they MUST, right?

Don’t worry—I reached out and asked 10 employers why they chose not to post the pay range and here were the answers I received:

  1. Oh we don’t know yet — we want to see what kind of applicants we get. (Cough—LIES—no one posts a position without a budget.)
  2. We aren’t sharing until we find someone. (Um, what is this, high school?)
  3. We provide a very generous benefits package. (You still didn’t tell me.)
  4. We pay applicants on a merit-based system. It’s very complex. (Thank you—did you just try to tell someone who has over a decade of HR experience that your process is so complex I wouldn't understand? 🤔)
  5. Our CEO said we couldn’t tell anyone.
  6. We are hoping we can get someone for below market rate. (Yyep, they said that.)
  7. It is not part of our equity initiative but that will be reviewed in the future. (I don’t even know what that means.)
  8. We pay market rate. (Don’t worry, I asked what market rate was—they couldn’t tell me.)
  9. We don’t have to. We have thousands of candidates applying—no one cares about pay transparency. (Ummmm ok.)
  10. As a top employer—we are proud of our equity initiatives, compensation package and our diversity programs. We have invested heavily in making sure our compensation is fair and equitable. (That is like me writing a book report and then not wanting the teacher to see if before she grades it—she just should TRUST that it is really good.)

As you can see—there is really no good reason to NOT tell your potential new employee, your human capital, your next executive how much you are going to pay them.

So next time you apply to a role with no salary—ask them. See if they can give you an answer better than the 10 reasons listed above.

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Allison Venditti is a Career Coach, HR Expert, salary negotiation whisperer and pay transparency and equity advocate. She is the founder of Moms at Work Canada's largest organization committed to helping women earn more money, land better jobs and build community. All with a LARGE HELPING of advocacy baked in.

Allison was named The Globe and Mail Report on Business Top 50 Changemakers 2022, is a regular speaker and media expert with over 100 interviews in 2021. Find our more about how you can work with us and create change for working women everywhere.