Craft Public Relations president Lisa Pasquin said she felt uneasy about publicly disclosing the agency’s salary bands on LinkedIn this week.
“I felt sick to my stomach putting it out there,” she said. “I started this company seven-and-a-half years ago, and this might be the hardest thing I’ve done in those seven-and-a-half years.”
The 32-person agency has been disclosing salary both internally and in its job postings since 2021, and Pasquin wasn’t worried that people would view its salary structure as being out-of-line with industry norms. “It wasn’t a fear that we’ve got salary totally wrong,” she said.
Instead, she said, her anxiety was borne out of the idea that job-seekers, and women in particular, have been conditioned to think that talking about money is a major taboo, which in turn has been a well-documented contributor to the gender pay gap.
When presented with the salary question in a job interview, for example, women typically ask for about 3% less than their male counterparts. The so-called “ask gap” can ultimately lead to a woman making hundreds of thousands of dollars less than a male counterpart over the course of their career.
“It’s a deep-rooted cultural norm that we don’t talk about money, and that’s a big part of what we’re trying to change by putting [the salary information] out there,” said Pasquin.
A lack of salary transparency means that applicants are often at a disadvantage, forced to place a value on their worth that could potentially be lower than they deserve.
It’s unfair to put that responsibility on a job-seeker, she said Pasquin. “We absolutely know how much this role is worth, and there’s no reason we can’t tell people that… In the economic climate we have today, earning potential and salaries matter, and I think it’s okay to admit that.”
One of the key reasons she chose to disclose Craft’s salary bands in advance of Equal Pay Day (March 7) is to take steps towards closing the pay gap.
According to OECD data, there is an average 16.7% gap between the annual median earnings of women and men in Canada. It’s not as bad as Korea, where the difference is an eye-popping 31.1%, but it trails other countries including Australia (15.3%), the United Kingdom (14.3%) and France (11.8%).
According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, there is also a pronounced difference between white men and racialized women, with the latter making, on average, 59.3% of what white men make. According to the CWF, it will take 267.6 years to close the economic gender gap worldwide, if present trends continue.
And in a 2021 study, the World Federation of Advertisers found what it called “strong evidence” of a gender pay gap in Canada, with women making 5% less than men in executive and c-suite positions, a number that rises to 20% at trainee and junior executive ranks.
The CWF, meanwhile, has put forward salary transparency as one of its three “bold steps” towards closing the gender pay gap, saying that “transparency needs to be addressed at every level of the pay scale in every profession.”
Sarah Kaplan, a business professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, told CBC last year that salary transparency has been shown to help close the gender and wage gap. “People don’t ask for a salary that’s lower than the wage band, and they know what the maximum could be,” she said.
While some respondents on Craft’s LinkedIn post questioned the $25,000 difference in the salary range for a position like senior account manager ($75,000 to $100,000), Pasquin said it reflects the fact that people are going to grow within a specific role.
“You might be a senior account manager for two or three years, [so] we felt it was important that people have the opportunity to grow financially in any given role,” she said. Someone newly promoted to the role might come in at the stated low end of $75,000, but move into the $100,000 tier as they progress through the position.
There have been growing calls for salary transparency around the world, with reports saying it has been shown to make workers more motivated, lead to them working harder, and being more productive.
It can also help attract employees, said Pasquin. Craft received five job applications in the wake of publicly posting its salary bands.