As a senior director working at Indeed’s Montreal office for the past three years, I see every day how Canadian firms are struggling in the current job market. A nationwide labour shortage and record-high job vacancy numbers have combined to present a formidable set of challenges. It’s particularly acute in Quebec, which had the lowest unemployment rate in Canada last year and continues to have a very tight job market. In this climate, every company must find ways to differentiate itself from other businesses seeking the best candidates.

At the same time, I see that many contemporary workplaces still don’t offer the same opportunities to everyone. It’s illegal in Canada to pay women less than men, and the principle of pay equity has been enshrined in provincial law for nearly half a century, but research shows that women in Quebec still make $3.25 less per hour than men. If current trends hold, it will take more than 267 years to achieve parity.

What if I told you that the key to solving both of these intractable problems, the employment issue as well as the societal issue, is the same thing?

There’s hard evidence demonstrating that increased pay transparency is one of the best steps a company can take to improve its applicant pool, and it also happens to be the best way to level the playing field for women. Indeed has helped many companies begin the process of embracing this form of transparency, so we know full well that it takes real work, and it requires shifting company culture as well as company policy. But we believe that if leaders truly grasped the tangible benefits of pay transparency, and transparency as a broader guiding principle, it would help them overcome whatever objections they still have.  

Transparency attracts the best candidates

Studies demonstrate that greater pay transparency reduces salary gaps*. But it’s also a great way to attract the best possible applicants. Today, 67% of job seekers consider salary information to be the crucial component of any job description when looking for new opportunities. Including a salary range in a job listing will reduce the time it takes to make better matches and increase efficiency, while still allowing for a range of payment options depending on a candidate’s skills and experience. 

In Canada, job listings that include salary information receive up to 90% more applications than listings that neglect to include this information. Seventy-five percent of Canadians state that they would not apply for a job if it did not contain salary information. 

Time and again I have witnessed how promoting values of openness and fairness is key to attracting top candidates. Transparency also helps foster the image of a company with an engaged and positive work environment and brand values that reflect the personal values of its workforce, qualities that contemporary job seekers not only prize but increasingly expect.

Your company’s leaders need to know that a substantial number of other companies competing for employees have already made this information available to potential hires. In Canada in 2022, 68% of job listings posted to Indeed contained explicit salary information, an eight-point increase from the previous year*. The movement toward pay transparency is gaining momentum. 

Stepan Arman, Senior Director at Indeed Canada

Transparency improves morale 

Greater transparency doesn’t just entice potential applicants,  it reduces misconceptions for current employees and reinforces the message that their compensation is fair. A recent survey found that for many employees, pay transparency translates to increased feelings of work satisfaction, engagement and loyalty. The demand for pay transparency is rising, especially among younger generations, who often view secrecy around pay as an archaic and harmful taboo.

In my work at Indeed, I have seen firsthand how companies that publish salaries are viewed as more likely to compensate staff fairly, manage performance consistently and communicate on other matters clearly. Studies also show that salary transparency increases employee wellbeing and worker motivation. Pay transparency facilitates a range of positive “downstream” impacts, increasing employee loyalty, tenure time and commitment to the role.

Younger generations of workers are looking for increased flexibility in their work and are known to be driven less by a dedication to any one corporation and more to a mission. Transparency is a key characteristic in communicating values. It reveals what types of work a company values most highly and brings clarity to the kinds of behaviours and outcomes that are most rewarded at a company. 

How to implement transparency policies

I understand why some leaders may be wary of sharing what has traditionally been viewed as private information. But I believe that hiring managers who want to excel have a responsibility to surface all of the misgivings their leadership has and challenge them. Often these concerns are rooted in the fact that revealing salary information might expose deeper issues.

Companies that flourish typically choose to view the adoption of transparency as an opportunity for improvement. Committing to pay transparency can inspire a company to address existing inequities within the organisation and establish clear salary policies before going public with this information. Implementing a rules-based framework will allow a company to justify its workings if challenged. 

The term “pay transparency” can be interpreted in different ways, and navigating the right approach can be intimidating. For some employers, it simply means communicating pay practices to employees and explaining how pay is determined. Partial transparency is where a company shares salary information only at a job posting level (Indeed’s Hiring Insights tool can provide a first step for businesses wanting to compare salary ranges in their area). At the high end of the spectrum, a company will proactively communicate staff salaries across the organisation.  

Pay transparency is becoming a focus for legislators in many countries in an effort to combat pay disparities, particularly along the lines of sex and race. And crucially, companies that do not take the initiative are discovering that workers often take a bottom-up approach to pay transparency, sharing salary information among themselves. By taking an enlightened, informed lead, organisations reveal to their staff and prospective employees that they proactively promote honesty, equality and care. In addition to the good that transparency can do for your bottom line and for workplace equity, it can also give you an edge over companies that are lagging behind in updating their own policies. 

I find it gratifying to work for a company that has a mission of connecting people with the right jobs. Helping to put people on the path to finding something that’s so foundationally important to their lives is incredibly rewarding. And working for a company that has the scale and the scope to put policies in place that help encourage the adoption of greater salary transparency just reinforces that.

*Article(s) in French

Disclaimer: The contents of this article do not and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Readers should consult an attorney to understand the impact of any decisions made in regard to the topics discussed in this article.