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People First Means Implementing Pay Transparency

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“Your background looks great for this position! What salary are you looking for in a new role?”

It seems innocuous enough: an open-ended question to kick off negotiations. In theory, both parties are incentivized to make things work to benefit both sides of the equation; the candidate and the company. However, the first number thrown out by either side in a negotiation almost always serves as an anchor point for future negotiations, and while a company has market compensation tools and usually years of operational knowledge, most candidates do not.

There’s a reason car salespeople ask, “What do you want your monthly payment to be?” when prospective customers walk onto the lot–there is power in asking the question first. In a recruitment setting, the power dynamics are wildly in favor of the company side of the equation unless the company practices pay transparency.

What Is Pay Transparency?

Pay transparency can mean different things to every employer, but here at StrongDM, we tie it back to our People-First values. If we were the applicant, what would we want to know while reviewing a job opportunity? How does this company address pay biases and inequities? Are they intentional about it? It also means that every single job posting from StrongDM will contain a salary range–because it’s the right thing to do. It also saves everyone time during the hiring process and helps to close wage gaps. We aren’t the only ones who feel this way. According to a recent Visier report, 79% of employees want pay transparency too.

Why Pay Transparency Matters

Speaking personally, I’ve been a Technical Recruiter long enough to know the market compensation for my skill set and how the range can vary for a large, publicly traded company versus a pre-seed startup. My experience in recruiting helps me feel comfortable negotiating with a company if/when we make it to the offer stage. And I also have, due to the tenure of my career, had the opportunity to build an emergency fund to where I’m more enabled to walk away from an offer. Finally, I’m *knock on wood* relatively healthy, with no ongoing healthcare needs hanging in the balance. If I see a job posting for a Technical Recruiter role that doesn’t include a salary range, I still have a pretty solid idea of what I will be asking for compensation-wise.

But this is not the reality for a huge segment of the job-seeking market. They might not have a comprehensive understanding of what the market is paying for their skillset. This could be their first time negotiating a salary, or they could be nervous that if they do ask for more, the company will withdraw the offer. And, at least here in the US, we tie health insurance largely to our place of employment, and for a lot of people, interruptions in their health coverage can be lethal.

Tangible Benefits of Disclosing Salary Ranges

Let’s talk about some pros of providing salary ranges upfront. Studies are clear that doing so closes the gender pay gap considerably, increases worker happiness and satisfaction and boosts productivity, and increases the talent pool and volume of applicants to postings. And from a compliance standpoint, pay transparency is becoming the law of the land in more and more states, cities, and counties in the US.

Transparent Hiring Practices Put People First

Here at StrongDM, we are People First. We treat our colleagues and customers as human beings, not resources. Everyone feels welcomed and respected. We remove speed bumps so everyone can do their best work. Doing the right thing by our people applies to our compensation philosophy as well, which is why we offer some of the best benefits in the business, including:

🤑 Top of market base salaries that are disclosed in each job description
❤️ 100% remote permanently
🌴 7 weeks of accrued PTO + sick leave
👶 24 weeks of paid parental leave (both parents)
👩‍⚕️ 100% employer-paid insurance premiums (employee + spouse + dependents)
🥂 11 paid holidays
❄️ Winter break - Closed the last week of the year
📈 Equity for everyone beginning on start date
💰 401k program
💵 $2500 to build a home office
😋 Work/life balance (we’re serious about this)

We’ve even instituted a reverse bell curve for annual cost of living adjustments where our teammates lower on the salary curve receive higher annual percentage increases than higher earners, as we realize inflation impacts lower earners more than higher earners.

Being People First doesn’t end with the people currently on staff. It’s meant for everyone we encounter, whether you’re a new hire or a long-time employee. If this description aligns with your values, we would love to have you join us on this rocket ship. 🚀


About the Author

, Senior Technical Recruiter, with over 6 years of recruiting experience in a variety of industries both as an internal and agency recruiter. He loves to nerd out on hiring and compensation trends and research new ways to attract top talent to StrongDM. Justin is committed to creating the best candidate experience possible for every applicant he meets. After attending Kennesaw State University to study Biology and working in labs for years, he transitioned into his forever-career of Recruitment. Justin even taught himself basic coding and recently earned his AWS Cloud Practitioner certification to better understand technical candidates. To contact Justin, visit him on LinkedIn.

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