How Can Pay Transparency Make a Difference for Women?

It’s well known that women still deal with a pay gap relative to men. But some employers are moving toward addressing the issue a new way – by opening the payroll books.

Gwen Moran at Fast Company writes, “There are many reasons that we should be more open about money–earning it, spending it, and managing it….And while employers may be afraid of tough conversations as a result of salary transparency, it may also hold unexpected benefits for companies.”

Pay transparency can drive equitable workplaces

I spoke to Moran to share factors that might be contributing to this controversial trend.

A public vow.

It’s well established that a woman’s resume is valued less than that of a man (even when experience and education are identical).  Companies who talk a big game about paying women fairly should open their books. Then, they can use that momentum to systematically close wage gaps. By being transparent about everyone’s pay, these companies make an implied pledge. After all, they’re now answerable to any pay disparities. And that commitment can be an attractive enticement for current women employees to stay on board. It can also be a competitive advantage for those considering working for your company.

Pay Transparency can right-size people’s expectations.

Pay transparency gives a person an important context about not just their own salary – but what others around them make.  Considering that 43% of people feel they are underpaid today, opening your payroll could serve to correct misconceptions. It can also calm people’s fears that they are undervalued. This kind of transparency can simultaneously boost engagement and productivity at work. That’s important because a key driver of our engagement is how valued we feel.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Many of the worst problems that have plagued companies – corruption, misleading customers, unethical conduct – have come at the hands of secretive cultures. As consultants who assess corporate cultures, pay transparency sends a strong message to employees about the company’s level of fairness and openness. Implementing salary transparency has the potential to create a sea change in your workplace that allows for more open dialogue – particularly about prickly, hard-to-discuss issues. Not to mention improved cooperation among employees and a higher bar on using impartial, objective data to make your case, rather than relying on what’s subjective or arbitrary.

Read the Fast Company article, including the key factors that make us shy away from talking about money – and yet plenty of good reasons why we should anyway.

Photo credits: Fabian Blank

Selena Rezvani

Selena Rezvani is a recognized consultant, speaker and author on women and leadership.  A seasoned human capital consultant, Selena uses workplace culture assessments to help corporate clients be more inclusive and welcoming to women.  She’s also the author of two leadership books targeted at professional women – Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and The Next Generation of Women Leaders (Praeger, 2009). Selena has been featured in the LA Times, Oprah.com, Todayshow.com, Forbes, and wrote an award-winning column on women for The Washington Post.

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