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Is your salary range public? It’s coming to your state

Salary Range

Equal pay for equal work?

Disclosure of wage or salary range by employer

Is now required in Washington state. This law requires employers (with 15 or more employees) to post the salary range in their job postings. This is an effort to minimize pay inequity between employees and is specifically directed toward women. I suspect the trend will continue throughout the rest of the states.

Even if your state does not have pay transparency, your manager and HR department use some version of salary bands to determine your compensation.

Trust me, these posts are relevant.

I understand and appreciate the intent of this move. I have seen differences in pay. The flip side is that I believe that passing this law is only part of the solution. Without education, passing a pay transparency law will hurt employers and employees, including the ones it is trying to protect. I want to try and alleviate this. Over the next few posts, I want to provide additional perspective. 

A few topics off the top of my head:

  • The intent of making the salary range public
  • What is a salary range? Most employees think that salary range is “one range fits all.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
  • Why is this law directed toward women and not other groups? In an age of Black Lives Matter, Asian Hate, and other social issues, can we do more?
  • Why negotiating your salary is so important—the consequences of not negotiating. 
  • HRNasty’s feeling about COLA, Cost of Living Adjustments.
  • There are groups that will be hurt by this law. How to avoid being a casualty. 

The intent, which I appreciate, is to reduce wage disparity between genders. The goal is to pay men and women equally for equal work. I get it. I have seen the intent of pay disparity. Not just early in my career but in recent years. In most cases, I believe managers setting disparate pay levels for equal work are doing it “unconsciously.” I think in most cases, it is an “unconscious bias.” I don’t think managers are waking up in the morning and CONSCIOUSLY saying to themselves, “I am going to make sure women are underpaid.” Don’t worry; when I see it, I speak up. The entire HR team I work with and I represent underrepresented and underpaid demographics. 

Background on HRNasty

I work in Seattle tech. Seattle is one of the more competitive cities for hiring tech workers. I get a lot of shit about the disparity from non-tech folks who believe that tech companies exploit the underrepresented to make a buck. Having worked in tech and corporate, in my opinion, tech is much more of a meritocracy than corporate—a separate topic. No employer is perfect, but as it relates to a culture of meritocracy, there are specific economic reasons tech leads the way.  More info to follow. 

I am not going to deny the pay disparity between men and women. When Mrs. HRNasty was working, I was very sensitive to how she communicated our lifestyle. She worked in non-profit and corporate for many years. I was very specific about how she communicated our lifestyle to her manager and colleagues. I was specific because I know pay disparity exists. There were a couple of points that I asked her not to share because I thought they would have an impact on her salary adjustments. Please don’t share:

  • That we have no children 
  • Mr. HRNasty was an early employee of a successful tech company
  • That Mr. HRNasty works in Tech
  • Mr. HRNasty is an executive

The shit still happens

This sounds1950’s, but I know this happens. It doesn’t happen often, but it just takes one of the above comments from an employee for one of the following manager reactions: 

  • “This employee doesn’t need a raise because their partner is doing great.” 
  • “Employee X has a big boat. They don’t need a raise.”
  • “Their parents are rich”
  • “Her partner is an executive.”
  • “Johnny has two kids in college.”

These are the conversations I heard, where managers were dumb enough to say this shit out loud. Managers have limited budgets. Some managers don’t have the professional courage to do the right thing.

Some managers think they ARE doing the right thing by re-distributing the budget to those in need vs. those who deliver. Do I give the raise to the results-driven employee who may not need a raise? Do I help the average worker who isn’t able to pay the bills? 

Fact-checking

Recently, I asked the HR team I work with if we have pay disparity between men and women. I also asked if they thought any demographics were underpaid. The answer was “no.” All employees are paid differently. We differentiate between experience, results, interpersonal skills, technical skills, etc. The team felt we paid fair salaries for a company of our size, revenue generated, and industry. When we see the disparity, we do something about it. Our head of recruiting has been posting salary ranges on job postings since 2022. For those worried about fact-checking, a few folks on the team subscribe to this blog.  

On this HR team, we have women, minorities, employees who are over 40, who are gay, and deaf person on the team. Yes, we have a white male as well. This group is used to being marginalized. Our head of recruiting has been posting salary bands since 2022.

Supply and Demand

In the last 10 years, the competition for skilled workers has been so intense that tech companies have difficulty getting away with pay disparity. I have been asked, “What is the comp band for a developer with seven years of experience who knows X, Y, and Z language.” My response:

“The band is whatever that candidate wants. When supply is short, the buyer doesn’t have much choice.

If we underpay by as little as $5K a year, the employee can go across the street and get another $15K.  

You aren’t going to find a deal when there is no supply. Gender won’t get in the way of simple economics when there is a shortage.”

The above conversation will happen less often in a down turning economy.  Folks familiar with older technologies will have fewer options. On the other hand, employees that kept their skills up to date will have choices. 

Next week, I will answer the following:

  • What is a salary band?
  • How is a salary band determined?
  • Which companies use them and why?

Over the next few posts, I will explain how to avoid pay disparity.

 

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, ridiculously good, tricky, and manipulative but with the result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone good at something. “He has a nasty forkball.”

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