Salary Equality – Not Just a Question of Cost

CV writing

Here at Leighton Taylor, we work hard with all of our clients to increase the diversity of candidates and help to eradicate inequality in the workplace.
As a recruitment agency within the professional services sector, a new development we’re seeing is an increasing trend towards candidates withholding their current and previous salary information.

Given that we are all operating in a much more informed and enlightened age of D&I, one major element to consider is whether a candidate’s previous salary information should actually be asked?

But what’s so poignant about divulging a salary? Would banning questions about a candidate’s salary history have any real benefits for employees or employers?

This may actually result in several positive outcomes. As well as ensuring that all individuals are paid a fair salary for their job, such rules could help employers to reduce their gender/ethnicity pay gaps and avoid the risk of discrimination claims.

Route2, who collaborate with business, investors and governments to qualify the impact their activities have on society and the natural environment, estimate that ethnic discrimination in the workplace alone costs UK business £40 billion every year. As they point out, ‘That’s £10 billion more than Rishi Sunak’s latest coronavirus response package, or equivalent to 1.8% of our Gross Domestic Product’. Staggering numbers.

Currently, the salary offered to a prospective candidate would be solely based on their skillset, experience and the value attributed to the work in the eyes of the employer.
In reality, however, when faced with two candidates of a similar calibre, an employer’s decision will often come down to a question of cost. But in actual fact, employers can gauge the applicant’s pay expectations without asking for their salary history.

In the United States, numerous states have banned employers from asking applicants about their salary history or current earnings and it may not be long before similar legislation is introduced in the UK. However, introducing a ban on salary history, without legal consequences, would likely prove ineffective in the long-term as it’s important to bear in mind that a change in the law isn’t an instant fix to ingrained attitudes and behaviours in the workplace.

A transformation won’t happen overnight, but taking steps to educate employers as to the benefits of such a change will certainly help to level the playing field between gender and ethnicity pay discrepancies. Route2 go on to add, the, ‘Moral case for ending discrimination is clear, but its economic benefits remain largely unexplored’. And discrimination, in any form, has huge knock-on effects, to mental wellbeing, for example, lost productivity, and costs to the NHS.

An employer voluntarily deciding to stop asking about salary history represents a deliberate, specific action that can help reduce pay inequity and, for first movers, serve as a brand boost to make the company a more attractive employer to both women and minorities, showing that the employer is actually taking concrete steps to combat institutional discrimination.

Colette Norfolk 

Written by Leightontaylor
20th November, 2020