The Importance of Salary Transparency

By Sara Parr Gill 

We’ve all been there: you see a job that’s a great fit, you craft the perfect cover letter, you’re invited for a phone interview, the call goes great, and then they ask you your salary range (or worse -- your salary history!).

What do you say? If you’re like many nonprofit professionals and you started your career doing a service year, do you even know what a “normal salary” is? What if you give your range and they come in at the very bottom? You can’t be mad -- you said you’d be cool with that number! What if you ask for too much and they balk?

At YNPN, we believe that providing a salary range in a job posting models transparency and encourages equitable compensation. We’re strongly encouraging job posts on the YNPN listserv to include salary ranges, hoping that this will become standard of practice for hiring managers.

Some hiring managers believe that posting a salary will discourage applicants. However, although a job posting without a salary might yield more applicants, the individuals who apply when the salary is disclosed will likely be better fits for the role; job seekers will only take the time to apply to roles that fit their desired salary.

Relying on applicants to state their desired salary can also contribute to wage gaps. Women and people of color are traditionally less likely to advocate for themselves in salary negotiations, and more likely to undervalue their own work. So, whereas an organization might be prepared to pay $65-70k for a role, if the right candidate says they’ll work for $45k, the organization would happily agree.

What are the downsides of sharing a salary range? If an employer is worried about current staff knowing what new staff will be paid, we argue that there should be greater salary transparency and trust between employers and staff overall. If a hiring manager thinks they won’t get as many applicants with a salary range that’s too low, perhaps they’ll be forced to reevaluate their pay practices.

With a lens towards equity, transparency, and efficiency, YNPN Boston encourages hiring managers to post salary ranges whenever possible, especially when sharing roles on our listserv. If a salary range isn’t posted, we encourage applicants to inquire about the organization’s budget for the role -- and ask sooner rather than later.

Additional Resources 

We referred to articles from Monster.com, Nonprofitaf.com, and posts in various nonprofit professionals Facebook groups to write this post.

TSNE MissionWorks - Nonprofit Salary Data


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