Young people demand pay transparency in job postings, say game is stacked against job seekers

Four years ago, Michelle Hamaoui came to Vancouver from Lebanon and got a job where she felt underpaid. She says that in future she won’t.

The next time she looks for a job, the IT project manager wants to know what she’s getting into before applying — and that includes salary. When she arrived in Canada, she did not know the labor market and she says that the information made public would have been useful during the negotiation.

“You don’t want to go through the whole four-month process of interviewing a company only to find out at the end that the offer isn’t what you were looking for or what’s actually sustainable for you,” said she declared.

Hamaoui is one of many in the private sector who hopes to see provincial governments require compensation information to be included in job postings.

“There’s no reason it shouldn’t be disclosed the same way it works in the public sector,” she said. “There’s no reason it shouldn’t work for the private sector. »

B.C.’s NDP government, led by John Horgan, said it viewed the move as a move to narrow the gender wage gap.

Legislatively, the movement is gaining momentum in the United States. Colorado already requires pay scales in job postings. 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 the job seeker requests it.

And across the Atlantic, the UK government is experimenting with a pilot project.

The corporate push to disclose salaries

There is a growing movement calling on companies to be more transparent about the salaries of potential employees and to include them in job postings. Since this story first aired, New York City has pushed back its pay transparency requirements from May to November. 2:01

Canada risks falling behind

In Canada, the practice of posting information is organic. Indeed, Canada, a job posting site, claims that 66% 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 demanding the data.

“I think we’re going to see that more and more, not just on big sites like Indeed, but on any company that posts a job,” Kaplan said.

She thinks there is going to be more pressure to display the range.

A recent survey by Bankrate.com, a personal finance website in the United States, indicates that young people are breaking the taboo around talking about money. About 40% of millennials and Gen Y employees have told their co-workers what they earn.

That compares to 31% of Gen Xers, those aged 42 to 57, but just 19% of baby boomers, those aged 57 to 76.

Companies see a gain

Some companies have made salary disclosure a policy and are happy with the results.

Indeed, Canada claims that companies that publish salary data receive up to 90% more applicants.

Vancouver-based accounting software company Bench took part in this action. The company decided to start posting pay scales in its job postings nine months ago and says it is already paying off by building a relationship of trust with its employees.

“We’ve seen the huge increase in the number of candidates applying,” said Spencer Miller, head of people analytics at the company.

Young people demand pay transparency in job postings say game
Spencer Miller, head of people analytics at accounting firm Bench, says the company has seen strong results after being more open about salary information. (Martin Diotte/CBC)

He describes the current labor market as “a candidate market”. And says that by releasing the information, they create a relationship of trust from the start.

“We have to make sure we attract and retain amazing people here,” Miller said.

As part of this broader push for transparency, Bench has also begun posting current job titles and salary ranges so people working within the company have an idea of ​​where they might go.

Company postings are similar to what you might already find in public or union environments, where posting wages is common practice.

“It turns out that when you do the right thing, it often generates great results as well,” Miller said.

A slow process for some

But there is some pull back on the trend.

Some groups representing businesses say such policies will take time to implement and are concerned about oversight. That’s one of the reasons New York City on Thursday decided to delay the implementation of its new salary disclosure rules from May to November 2023.

Some human resources departments are still struggling to comply with Colorado’s requirements, says Hani Mansour, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver.

“It creates a lot of headaches for HR departments,” he said. “There is now a greater effort to standardize job codes, determine that you know if job titles make sense or not [and] what is comparable work? »

Cost of life8:31Is pay transparency the key to pay equity?

For many Canadians, openly discussing our income is taboo. But could openly sharing our wages actually change what we get paid and lead to greater pay equity? Anis Heydari takes a closer look at a concept called “pay transparency” – which some experts say would level the playing field in many workplaces. 8:31

Ontario actually adopted the pay scale in job postings as a requirement in 2018. But the Progressive Conservative government delayed the decision indefinitely after it was elected.

For Hamaoui, the issue is one of fairness. She says some people won’t know how underpaid they are until the salary information is made public.

“It’s playing poker when you only have two out of five cards,” she said. “And they have all the cards. »

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