This question makes countless job seekers shudder.
Tell me, what’s your salary requirement?
Hiring managers and recruiters often ask this question. You may not know what a job’s salary is. Unless you refine your complex salary requirements, you won’t know if you’ve written a number too low and put your potential income on the table.
That’s about to change. A bill signed by governor Jay inslee last month will require state-owned enterprises with more than 15 employees in Washington State – from fast-growing start-ups to technology giants such as Microsoft and Amazon – to disclose salary ranges and benefits in their work lists from January 1, 2023.
The law could bring huge changes to the technology industry, where it is not uncommon for applicants to receive several rounds of interviews before hearing about potential compensation plans. Those who unknowingly say a lower number during the interview will earn significantly less than their peers.
“I can’t imagine any larger company happy about it.”
Kirkland’s software engineer Cher Scarlett, who supported Senate bill 5761 during this year’s legislative session, said technology companies wanted to keep employees as ignorant of pay as possible.
“In my position at Starbucks and apple, my salary is very low because I am asked to get my salary expectations instead of knowing in advance that Starbucks or apple will consider the value of my work,” Scarlett said in an interview with lawmakers
Doug sayed, founder of applied human resources strategy, said technology companies were also very confidential about compensation practices because they didn’t want competitors to know what they offered.
“Technology companies operate in a highly competitive labor market, especially in the past year or more,” he said.
Said said he didn’t hear much support for the new law when talking to technology leaders, but some people will use the salary range information provided by competitors to inform their recruitment decisions.
“I can’t imagine that any larger company would be happy about it, although some smaller companies may be excited to see what they are competing with,” said.
In addition, more information about compensation is largely beneficial to employees, although it is not clear how the company will determine the salary range in advance.
Doug sayed, founder of applied human resources strategy. (apply photos)
“From the perspective of interests, you will provide more transparency to job seekers,” said. “In addition, smaller employers will be transparent about the services that their biggest labour market competitors may provide, although I suspect some employers will find ways to avoid a reduction in transparency.”
Before the law goes into effect, the Washington State Department of labor and industry will establish a system to investigate violations and complaints.
Molly Jones, vice president of public policy at the Washington Technology Industry Association, said the new law could make it harder for startups to compete with large technology employers for new employees because “startups usually have lower wages, although startups can provide stocks and stock options you can’t find in large companies.”
Even so, she believes that the law is largely positive, especially for skilled workers, who have historically been underrepresented and underpaid in the industry.
“WTIA did not take a formal position on the bill during the legislative session, although we support the intention of the bill to provide salary transparency and fairness for women, bipoc and persons with disabilities in the technology industry,” Jones said. “More information and greater pay transparency are key parts of narrowing the pay gap.”
Todd Reeves, senior vice president of Expedia group in charge of employee engagement and insight, also expressed his views on equity. He said that Expedia has announced the salary ranges of several States, and it is expected that the new law in Washington state will not change much.
“Given our current practice, although we are still reviewing the updated next steps, we do not expect this legislation to have any impact because it will help us work towards a more open and fair workplace,” Reeves said.
Colorado was the first state to pass a new law last year that mandated disclosure of salary ranges. Similar disclosure laws will soon take effect in New York City, and several other states – including New York and California – are debating plans to require companies to be more transparent about compensation.
Critics of Washington legislation told crosscut that it could actually be a bad thing for a worker to make their current salary a public record, especially if it would lead to their next employer giving them less money. Critics also argue that such laws may reduce the likelihood that employers in other states will hire remote workers.
Some claim that Colorado already has evidence that telework exclusion is happening. The Colorado exclusion website features online recruitment information from all over the country, some of which are from well-known companies such as eBay, spotify and eventbrite, which specifically exclude job seekers living in Colorado.
“This is a remote location that can be executed anywhere in the United States, except Colorado,” wrote an expired list of shutterfly software engineers.
After inslee signed the new law in Washington, Scarlett, a worker rights advocate, wrote on Twitter: “Colorado is excluded from software work because of this law, but good luck to the coveted engineers of Google, Microsoft, Amazon, meta and apple.”
Jones of WTIA said the high concentration of skilled workers in Washington is bound to affect employers across the country to announce salary ranges.
“We have a lot of talent in our state, and it’s exciting that Washington may be the first follower to create real momentum across the country on this issue,” Jones said.
“Before you are forced to do so, just publish your salary range, because you will be forced to do so.”
Some companies will not wait until 2023 to add salary ranges to job descriptions.
Seattle based TEXTIO, an artificial intelligence based enhanced writing platform dedicated to making job descriptions more equitable, publishes salary ranges for vacant positions in all locations.
Kieran Snyder, TEXTIO’s chief executive, said in a geekwire podcast last week that the company should be ahead of the trend and “do the right thing”
“Before you’re forced to do this, just announce your salary range because you’ll be forced to do it,” Snyder said He added that it was important for potential employees to know their “general situation”.
TEXTIO will not negotiate outside the prescribed salary range as part of an effort to make the workplace more equitable.
“We’re kind of telling you where you’re going to stand,” Snyder said His company employs 120 people in nine states. “One of the most important things companies can do for their equity and inclusive work is transparency here.”
Said, who is in charge of applying human resources strategy, said he has some doubts about the effectiveness of the new law, especially because it is unclear whether companies must disclose the full scope of the position or how many new employees they are willing to pay. Some small companies may not have a formal salary range, which may complicate the job of job seekers.
“Those who haven’t gone through formal salary analysis and planning may just follow the trend, or publish a very narrow range, which only represents what they are willing to provide for new employees, not necessarily the total salary that people who work in the company for a period of time may receive,” said.
Even so, he believes that as economic powers such as California move towards setting similar requirements, this will become more standard – especially if it acts to help promote diversity, equity and inclusiveness, commonly known as Dei.
“I’m not sure if I accept a fair argument, but I understand why,” said. “Most technology companies, especially the larger ones, are focused on efforts to increase diversity and gender pay equity in technology. So far, Dei’s efforts have had limited success, but not necessarily because they haven’t tried at all.”
This question makes countless job seekers shudder.