• 12 Mar 2024

Too many job adverts do not include the salary, and research shows this disadvantages women, disabled workers and black and minority ethnic workers.

Why we need greater pay transparency

Look at any jobs page for the media and publishing and one phrase will become very familiar – “competitive salary”.

Many news and publishing organisations are very coy about the salary of the job they have advertised. People who respond by filling in a job application form could also find a question asking them what their present salary is.

Come the job interview it isn’t unusual to find yourself negotiating your starting salary.

Research shows that this approach disadvantages women, disabled workers and black and minority ethnic workers. That is why the NUJ is working with other organisations such as the recruitment company Liberty Hive to lobby for companies to provide a guide to the salary offered and to outlaw asking questions about people’s previous salaries.

The words ‘commercially sensitive’ are often the go to response on salary secrecy from some employers within the media industry, and there are no laws in the UK that force businesses to share the salary details of their employees.  Employees are often discouraged by employers from talking about their pay. Secrecy can allow discrimination to flourish dividing the workforce.

The Equality Act 2010 prevents the enforcement of pay secrecy clauses in employee contracts which seek to stop employees from discussing pay information when trying to uncover differences in pay that may be linked to discrimination.  Gender Pay Gap (GPG) reporting continues to be the mechanism whereby employers with over 250 employees are required to report on their GPG.  While GPG reporting is not the same thing as equal pay, it can be an indication the pay parity is a problem within an organisation.

The UK gender pay gap for fulltime workers is 14.3 per cent, but the gap among higher earners and older women is much larger. The gender pay gap in FTSE boardrooms still stands at 70 per cent, with average pay for female directors at £309,000, compared to £1.04 million for men. The latest EUROSTAT figures (2021) show Ireland’s gender pay gap is 11.3 per cent. Lack of pay transparency is one of the causes of the GPG.

According to 2023 research by XpertHR, only 50 per cent of UK firms include salary details on all of their job ads, with fewer than a third (29 per cent) of employers including salaries on ‘some’ job ads.

The Equality Council supported the House of Commons  Women and Equalities Committee which called on the government to bring forward its promised pilot project on pay transparency to ‘break down barriers for women’ . Find out more.

Liberty Hive research shows:

  • 75 per cent of candidates would be more likely to apply for a role that included a salary range.
  • 62 per cent of candidates believe they should not be asked about their current or past salary in an interview and this figure increases to 73 per cent amongst Asian workers and 75 per cent for black workers.
  • 57 per cent of women and 54 per cent of men felt less positive about a potential employer when they were asked the salary history question.
  • 21 US states have legislation banning employers from asking about salary history. Direct side-by-side comparisons of these states with their neighbours over three years revealed that the move resulted in an average 8 per cent pay increase for women and a 13 per cent pay increase for black employees. Turnover rates stayed the same, suggesting that organisations can still hire suitable candidates as efficiently as they could previously.
  • Denmark: A research study found the pay transparency legislation closed the gender pay gap by 13 per cent.

Liberty Hive has found that being more transparent about pay can also benefit employers.

  • When salaries are displayed, the response time is over 50 per cent quicker.
  • A post that displays a salary receives around 67 per cent more applications than one that does not.
  • Since we introduced our new salary bands on the Liberty Hive Platform over 65 per cent of our clients openly post compensation.
  • Jobs posted without any indication of compensation makes the matching process 45 per cent less effective as it results in a greater variation in experience of applicants.

Employers may say that posting salary range publicly could also be of benefit to competitors.The Liberty Hive pay transparency guide suggests that if this is a problem this information could be shared with job candidates and not made available to view for other media businesses.

Natasha Hirst, NUJ president said: "Low pay and insecure contracts for early career workers are a scourge on our industry with pay gaps present from the start. Lack of pay transparency compounds these inequalities as workers try to progress their careers, resulting in the loss of talented women and diverse groups from journalism, publishing and other media roles. The time for fairness and transparency is well overdue, we call on employers to show the salary/display the pay."

"Salary transparency: employers, if you do one thing in 2024 to demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity – consider this." #ShowUstheMoney @nujofficial  @Liberty_Hive

#ShowUstheMoney model letter
  • 13 Mar 2024
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