Four years ago, Michelle Hamaoui came to Vancouver from Lebanon and got a job where she felt she was underpaid. She says that in the future, she won’t do that again.
The next time you’re looking for a job, the IT project manager wants to know what you’re getting into before you apply, and that includes salary. When she first arrived in Canada, she was unfamiliar with the labor market and says public information would have been helpful in negotiating.
“You don’t want to go through the entire four-month interview process with a company only to find out at the end that the offer doesn’t match what you were looking for or what’s really sustainable for you,” he said.
Hamaoui is one of many in the private sector who hopes that provincial governments will require compensation information to be included in employment listings.
“There’s no reason why that shouldn’t be disclosed in the same way that it works in the public sector,” he said. “There’s no reason it shouldn’t work for the private sector.”
BC’s NDP government, led by John Horgan, says it is considering the move as a move to reduce gender pay gaps..
Legislatively, the movement is gaining strength in the United States. Colorado already requires pay scales in job advertisements. New York City’s requirement is scheduled to begin in November, with Washington state following in 2023. Several other states require the information to be provided if requested by the job applicant.
And across the Atlantic, the UK government is testing a pilot project.
Canada at risk of falling behind
In Canada, the practice of publishing information occurs organically. In fact, Canada, a job posting site, says that 66 percent of its listings contain some form of salary information.
But Sarah Kaplan, a business professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, says Canada hasn’t kept up with other countries when it comes to requesting data.
“I think we’re going to see this more and more, not just on the big sites like Indeed, but on every company that posts a job ad,” Kaplan said.
She thinks there is going to be more pressure to post the range.
A recent survey by Bankrate.com, a personal finance website in the US, says that young people are breaking the taboo of talking about money. Roughly 40 percent of Gen Y employees have told their co-workers what they earn.
That compares with 31 percent of Gen Xers, ages 42 to 57, but just 19 percent of baby boomers, ages 57 to 76.
Companies that see a reward
Some companies have made wage disclosure a policy and are happy with the results.
In fact, Canada says that companies that publish payment data receive up to 90 percent more applicants.
Vancouver accounting software company Bench has been part of that action. The company decided to start posting pay scales in its job postings nine months ago and says it’s already paying off by creating a relationship of trust with its employees.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of candidates who have applied,” said Spencer Miller, the company’s head of people analytics.
He describes today’s job market as “a candidate market.” And he says that by posting the information, they are creating a relationship of trust from the start.
“We need to make sure we’re attracting and retaining amazing people here,” Miller said.
As part of that broader push for transparency, Bench has also started posting current job titles and salary ranges so people working within the company have an idea of where they might go next.
Company postings are similar to those you may already find in public or union settings, where posting wages is common practice.
“It turns out that when you do the right thing, it often leads to great results as well,” Miller said.
A slow process for some
But there is some reversal in the trend.
Some groups representing corporations say such policies will take time to implement and are concerned about oversight. That was one of the reasons New York City decided Thursday to delay implementing its new salary disclosure rules from May to November 2023.
Some human resources departments are still struggling to meet Colorado’s requirements, says Hani Mansour, an economics professor at the University of Colorado Denver.
“It’s creating a lot of headaches for human resources departments,” he said. “There’s now more of an effort to standardize job codes, to figure out if job titles make sense or not. [and] what a comparable job”.
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Ontario actually passed the pay scale in job advertisements as a requirement in 2018. But the Progressive Conservative government delayed the move indefinitely after it was elected.
For Hamaoui, the problem is one of justice. She says some people won’t know how underpaid they are until salary information is made public.
“It’s playing poker when you only have two cards out of five,” he said. “And they hold all the cards.”