Industry Insights

Pay Transparency: What It Is and the Benefits  

In the past, discussing how much money you made was generally frowned upon. But things have changed. Today, companies that embrace pay transparency can experience benefits ranging from increased productivity to reduced turnover. However, like any significant change, implementing pay transparency policies takes time and effort to do correctly.

What Is Pay Transparency?

Pay transparency is the practice of openly sharing salary information within an organization, which allows employees to see how the compensation structure works. This includes making salary ranges, wage policies, and criteria for salary decisions available to all employees.

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What Are Pay Transparency Laws?

Several states have enacted pay transparency laws to promote fairness and combat pay discrimination. These laws commonly mandate employers to reveal salary ranges for job vacancies, forbid retaliation against employees for discussing their pay, and enforce the reporting of pay data to government agencies.

Which States Have Pay Transparency Laws?

Although the United States lacks a federal pay transparency law, as of April 2024, pay transparency regulations have been enacted in 12 states and cities. These laws require employers to disclose salary ranges to job seekers in job postings and during the hiring process, with varying guidelines depending on the jurisdiction. 

Cities and States With Pay Transparency Laws

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • Jersey City, New Jersey
  • New York 
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Toledo, Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

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What Are the Benefits of Pay Transparency?

When done right, pay transparency can lead to a more equitable, productive, and harmonious work environment for employees and employers.

Encourages Equal Compensation

Pay transparency can potentially close the wage gap.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2022, women typically earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Women of different races and ethnicities experience an even more significant pay disparity. In 2022, Hispanic and Black women only earned 65 and 70 cents, respectively, to every dollar earned by a white man.

Sharing the salary ranges of current employees and open positions helps illuminate whether people of different genders and ethnicities are being paid more than others. Pay transparency can also help reduce inequalities based on factors like age and level of education completed.

Encourages Productivity

When employees understand how their salary ranges are determined, it helps create a company culture of transparency. Employees can see how their effort and expertise affect their paychecks. 

The results encourage more employee trust in the company, which ultimately helps increase productivity. Employees may also be encouraged to work harder to increase their chances of moving up the ladder because they can see how a promotion could boost their salary range.

Attract Top Talent

When prospective candidates encounter companies that openly share information about compensation structures and salary ranges, they feel assured that they will be treated fairly and equitably. 

This perception of commitment to equitable treatment becomes a powerful magnet, drawing in talented individuals eager to contribute to a workplace built on principles of fairness and transparency.

Moreover, 65% of companies that practice pay transparency in job posts report attracting higher-quality applicants.

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The Downside of Pay Transparency

Pay transparency in the workplace can help level the playing field. But it can also show how unfair the game was in the first place.

Exposing pay disparities may cause an initial wave of anger and distrust among people who were historically underpaid. If salary discrepancies are extreme, there might be a reduction in productivity and potential backlash within the company and publicly.

This is especially so for employees engaging in comparable tasks, who are paid much less than their counterparts without valid justification based on job-related factors such as skill, tenure, and additional qualifications.

Downside of Sharing Salaries on Job Posts

The most significant issues in this case are sharing salaries well below market rate or with overly inflated pay ranges of $20,000 and higher. Job posts like these risk attracting fewer qualified job candidates. 

Remember, to attract the people you need to meet your business objectives, offer competitive salaries that align with your location and industry standards without over-inflating the pay range.

How to Implement Pay Transparency Policies Successfully

Having a plan to address and prevent pay inequities is helpful. To start, analyze the salaries of your current employees. Is anyone’s salary particularly low or high? If so, why? Is it a matter of experience or merit?

If there isn’t an apparent and objective reason for the discrepancies, management should be ready to get things right quickly. That could mean increasing the pay rate of some employees and offering them bonuses to counteract months or years of underpayment. Companies could also impose a salary freeze for those historically overcompensated as the rest of the organization catches up.

Do your research to ensure the salary ranges you set for current and new employees are fair. Creating a compensation philosophy is a great place to start. It will help your company better understand how people around the country are paid based on their experience, education, and responsibilities. 

Also, we would be remiss if we did not share that Wizehire’s hiring platform includes current data for compensation based on location and job title.

Wize Words

Embracing pay transparency goes beyond complying with pay transparency laws. It is also a step towards building a fair and equitable workplace. By being transparent about pay, your company can help reduce the wage gap and promote a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Moreover, it can help create a society where everyone is valued and compensated fairly for their skills and contributions.


  • Helen Anne Travis

    Helen Anne Travis is a seasoned journalist with an extensive portfolio that includes contributions to renowned media outlets such as CNN and USA Today. Her writing expertise extends beyond journalism, including projects with organizations like M.I.T.

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The article was reviewed by Deirdre Sullivan

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