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Pay Transparency Survey Results: Part 1

Pay Transparency Survey Results: Part 1

by Frank Roche on February 22, 2009

in Pay Transparency, Surveys

Pay transparency are words you’re going to be saying a lot this year. One element of the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12) opens the door to pay transparency:

{The Act] Prohibits retaliation for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of the employee or another employee in response to a complaint or charge, or in furtherance of a sex discrimination investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, or an investigation conducted by the employer.

I’ve been very interested in pay transparency for a long while. My specialty is pay communication. I’ve written a lot about getting pay right. In fact, Women Make Less Than Men: 5 Things HR Needs to Do Right Now to End Pay Inequality is one of the biggest drivers of traffic to this site, almost two years after it was written.

I’ve done compensation communications or a long time and have seen the spectrum of pay revelations. Some secret. Some revealing. Some with the books flung open. With all the talk about pay transparency these days, I was curious about what KnowHR readers thought about opening the pay books for everyone to see.

Here’s what 609 KnowHR readers thought about pay transparency. (Special thanks to Chris Kelley of KnowledgePay.com and Ann Bares of Alutra Consulting Group for helping get the word out.)

Question 1:

Question 2:

Question 3:

Question 4:

I’m assembling the hundreds of written comments we got into a report. I’ll get that to you soon. Here’s one of the answers to the question, “If you opened the books on everyone’s pay and everyone knew what everyone else was paid, what problems would you anticipate?” that merits some long and hard consideration. (There are so many great responses. I’m grouping them by theme.)

There’s an old saying that people are satisfied with what they get paid right up until they find out what the next guy makes. If everyone knew what everyone else makes, then productivity would drop like a rock while people sat around complaining that they weren’t treated fairly (as if there is any real definition of fair). Companies should focus on setting a pay policy and paying people accordingly. If the policy is to pay at median, then do so. If it is to pay higher performers better, then do that. But there is no magical definition of fair and I think it is naive to think there is. Pay is not as simple a subject as this survey implies.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

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