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:

TOP 10 REASONS EMPLOYERS DID NOT INCLUDE THE SALARY RANGE:

  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.

Allison Venditti

Career Coach, HR Expert, salary negotiation whisperer, pay transparency and equity advocate. Founder of My Parental Leave and Moms at Work, Canada's largest organization committed to helping women earn more money, land better jobs and build community. 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.

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