Virginia Human Resources Today - Winter/Spring 2018 - 20
Some Advice on Pay Transparency
ow much information
should I share with my
Clients often ask me this question
when we're working on a pay study.
"We don't publish our pay ranges
and in fact, managers have never
seen them either." Pay transparency
has become a headline- and
hashtag-worthy topic as a potential
cure for pay discrimination. But
does the solution lie in publicizing
pay rates or perhaps in the way
actual pay decisions are made?
There are a few things we need
to think about first when it comes
to pay transparency. These are the
questions I walk through with my
HR leaders to help arrive at the
How is pay information shared
at your organization? There are
paychecks, of course, but let's
consider a few perspectives.
What information is available
to employees, hiring managers,
and leaders? What information is
readily available for employees,
for example, on your company's
HR intranet site, and what
information can be pieced together
from multiple sources? For hiring
managers, does HR discuss pay
ranges for staff level jobs and
explain how to appropriately
position a salary offer? Do business
leaders or department heads
have a good understanding of the
company's pay program and how
pay rates are determined?
What's the general feeling
about sharing pay information at
your company? It's important to
understand the dynamics going on.
Is this a relatively new issue or one
that has been unresolved for some
time? What may have prompted
How would you describe your
organization's overall business
transparency? How open is your
company about sharing financials?
That's important to think about.
Private companies may be more
reluctant to share pay grades,
ranges, etc., simply because
they have different financial
reporting requirements than public
companies. Your company leaders
may think about sharing salary
information in the same way.
Do you feel it's time for a
change? As a company leader, do
you feel like current pay-sharing
practices best serve your business
needs? Many pay programs start
out being shared on a need-to-know
basis. Today, are there more
people or different people in your
company's need-to-know circle?
There is no right or wrong answer,
this is a cultural question. However,
as an HR leader, you may be
perceptive and realize a change
could strengthen cultural elements
like employee engagement, trust in
leadership, and confidence in the
processes in place.
What types of questions and
concerns come up the most about
pay? Are employees curious about
career opportunities and what their
pay potential may be as they grow
in their career? Proactive questions
like this can be great. Or, do you
often feel like you're putting out
fires as employees approach you
with online salary reports informing
VIRGINIA HUMAN RESOURCES TODAY | WINTER/SPRING 2018
they are underpaid? Both types
of questions can be especially
challenging if you need to speak in
What challenges are voiced by
your managers? Are your managers
faced with direct employee pay
questions and feel unclear about
the company's compensation
program and processes? Do they
feel they are winging it most times
and have the same questions about
their own pay?
What are your company leaders'
thoughts about pay transparency?
First, consider where they may be
coming from. Are your company's
top leaders also the company
founders or owners? Have things
been operating this way for some
time because it simply works?
Remember that to establish
a successful business, sound
decision making is essential. Your
leaders are also wise enough
to know the value of employee
trust. Take the opportunity to
talk candidly with your leaders to
discuss their thoughts about pay
transparency. You may find that
some well-considered changes may
What are the steps to get there?
Now, how can you get to where
you want to be? We've explored
how things stand now and what
By Kerri E. Arnold, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Engagement Leader -
Compensation Consulting Services, Newport Group