Ask SGO: Should I Include Salary in My Job Description?

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In the course of our day, we get asked a lot of questions about diversity and inclusion. We thought it might be helpful to start sharing our thoughts to the …

In the course of our day, we get asked a lot of questions about diversity and inclusion. We thought it might be helpful to start sharing our thoughts to the broader community. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will answer your burning questions about creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. If you have a question, please write to us and we’ll include you in an upcoming post. Please know that all submissions will be completely anonymous!

Today we’ll start with a question we’ve been asked a few times. Should I include salary in my job description? Well, first off, this is a great question. In the past several decades, salaries have been largely excluded from job descriptions. There are a variety of reasons for this. You don’t want to give potential employees the ‘advantage’ in the negotiation game by giving a number first. You don’t want competitors to know what you pay your employees. You’re worried you’ll get fewer candidates applying if they see the salary band. You’re worried that existing employees will expect more money if they feel the job you’ve posted is similar to their work and they don’t get paid as much. We’d argue that the pros for being transparent around salary significantly outweigh the cons, but first let’s address these cons.

Why you might be nervous about including salary in your job descriptions

What if the competition knows what I’m offering and they go higher and take all the good people?
Although every company will have different standards for pay, there are a number of tools to help you figure out what an average range is for a given position. Glassdoor is one of the most popular tools in use today. If the competition is offering a significantly higher salary range and you’re not close to what tools like Glassdoor are suggesting, you may want to rethink your salary ranges. If you’re offering a lot less, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time talking with candidates who expect to be paid more.

We’re told in negotiation strategy to never give a number first.
It’s time to buck that trend. By being transparent and honest, you’re achieving a few wonderful things. You’re showing that you’re not afraid to go first (super grown up of you) and you’re indicating what kind of company culture you have. By being open about salary, something that’s usually kept secret, you’re breaking down an opaque barrier that restricts an open and transparent corporate culture. On top of this, you’re not wasting people’s time. If you put out a number that’s way off of what a potential candidate is willing or able to accept, then you’re weeding them out. That saves everyone time and energy. Also, we’re not even sure that giving a number first is such a bad thing.

I won’t get as many candidates if they know how much we’re offering!
To the above point, that’s actually great. You’re only getting candidates that are able to meet your criteria. Isn’t that what you want? If you really have a lot of room to negotiate the salary, then be transparent about the range. Again, you’ll get the candidates that can meet you where you want to be.

What if my existing employees get upset when they see the salary range?
If you’re offering a higher salary range for the same job, then yes, we can see how that can be upsetting. Maybe it’s time to look into pay equity to fix this issue. We’re not saying it will be easy, but we think it’s an important way to show existing and potential employees that you care about being fair.

We don’t have salary ranges at our company.
It might be a great time to start thinking about this as well (I know, we’re giving you lots of things to do). Here’s a handy article on how to establish salary ranges.

Why including salary in your job descriptions is a good thing

We’ve briefly touched upon why we think providing salary ranges in job descriptions is a good thing in our answers above, but to be clear, here they are:

  • Historically, we know that negotiating puts women and people of color at a disadvantage. It’d be great to change that.
  • You’re showing you are transparent and honest in what is likely the very first impression a candidate will have of you.
  • You’re not wasting people’s time by going through a long interview process only to find out the candidate isn’t willing or able to meet your salary requirements.

Certainly the larger your company is and the less work that has been done already to put this structure in place, the harder these changes (and culture shift) will be to implement. However, spending some time and building this work in will save you headaches in the long term. Establishing trust by increasing transparency will create lesser turnover and reduce costs. This is, as we like to say, win-win-win… You win by being more efficient in the long term, candidates win by saving time and energy, and everyone wins by living in a more transparent and open world.

Did you find this post helpful? Looking to learn more about the best way to help your staff and company? We offer workshops to better help recruit a diverse candidate pool and retain employees by creating an inclusive culture.

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