Salary Negotiation

  • The Wage Gap is Real – but we can fix it

    As an HR professional I am a strong advocate for pay transparency. I also run an online community dedicated to supporting working mothers. I refuse to recruit for companies that will not disclose the salary upfront, and I don’t share job advertisements online without posted salary ranges, simply because keeping salaries secret reinforces discrimination.

    We have heard a lot recently in the media about discrimination, how opportunities, perceptions and even a person’s worth to society is largely based on conscious or even unconscious bias. All levels of the Canadian government and private companies alike have come together publicly to support fairness and equality.

    Social media posting, public denouncements of discriminative workplace cultures and news releases are aplenty, but when it comes to implementing corporate policies and government legislation to address these biases, we have gone quiet. We put our heads down and continue on thinking that “well, it’s not me, I don’t discriminate.”

    We know in Canada today:

    • Indigenous women working full-time, full-year earn an average of 35% less than non-Indigenous men, earning 65 cents to the dollar.
    • Racialized women working full-time, full year earn an average of 33% less than non-racialized men, earning 67 cents to the dollar.
    • Newcomer women working full-time, full-year earn an average of 29% less than non-newcomer men, earning 71 cents to the dollar.
    • According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, women with a disability in Canada working full and part-time earn approximately 54 cents to the dollar when compared to the earnings of nondisabled men, equaling a wage gap of around 46%

    Source: Gender Wage Gap Fact Sheet

    Pay Transparency is not only good corporate policy, it is one of the simplest and fastest ways to prevent unconscious discrimination in hiring practices and close the pay gap.

    In 2018, Ontario launched a 3 year strategy designed to “close the gender wage gap, particularly where it is greatest — for Indigenous, newcomer and racialized women, and women with disabilities.” Part of that plan was theThe Pay Transparency Act.The statute –was scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019 and would make the following changes:

    • Salary rates or ranges must be stated in all publicly advertised job postings;
    • Candidates may not be asked about their past compensation;
    • Reprisals cannot be made against employees who discuss or disclose compensation;
    • Employers with one hundred or more employees and prescribed employers must track and annually report compensation gaps based on gender and other prescribed characteristics in pay transparency reports;
    • The province must also publish pay transparency reports.

    This Act would have removed the accepted discriminatory practices hidden under the guise of corporate culture and held companies accountable for their equality standards.

    In December 2018, the Government quietly rolled out Bill 57, which halted the implementation of the Pay Transparency Act citing a need for public consultations. The public consultations closed in April 2019, and we have not heard anything since.

    The Pay Transparency Act is ready to go, it received Royal Assent at the end of 2018. If we are truly supportive of equality, and removing long-standing and accepted bias, why are we not forcing the change?

    To quote the amazing Areva Martin “It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act. You must demand change and be the change … we need you to do more than stand.”

    Want the Ontario Conservative government to pass the Pay Transparency Act? Write a letter and share this article and send it to the following people:

    Ontario Premier, Doug Ford

    Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Hon. Monte McNaughton,

    Minister of Finance, Hon. Rod Phillips,

    Solicitor General (responsible for the Anti-Racism Directorate). Hon. Sylvia Jones,

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  • The stupidest thing I have seen companies do

    I have worked in Human Resources for almost 20 years now, and I have seen a lot. I have hired thousands of people, helped them return from work, fired people, negotiated many a salary range, 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 kitchen and proposed an 8-part plan to fix it.

    Someone asked me the other day, “What the stupidest thing I had seen a company do?” Well, 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.” They are willing to drag you through 3 interviews only for you to find out that they 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. It does not allow the employers to play the stupid game of: “how much do you currently make?”… and then low ball them accordingly.

    “We don’t have a solid or fair compensation strategy.” Because 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,” you yell — “this sounds terrible! Companies must have some reason for doing this!” Well they MUST, right? Don’t worry — I reached out and asked 10 employers why they did not post the pay range and here were the answers I got:


    1. Oh, we don’t know yet — we want to see what kind of applicants we get. –cough. LIES. no one posts a position with no 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 like to pay each applicant based on a merit-based system. It’s very complex. –did you just tell someone who has over a decade with compensation analysis that you thought 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. –yep, they said that
    7. It is not part of our equity initiative but that will be reviewed in the future. –yeah, 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 1000s 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 it before she grades it. she just should KNOW that it is really good

    There is really no good reason to NOT tell your potential new employee, 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 listed above.

    Need help asking for more? Check out our Salary Negotiation courses and coaching program for details.