The Case for Pay Transparency

I play poker semi-regularly with a group of women. We all buy in for $20 and play 5-card games. It’s not all that serious, but we do play by the rules. We like to say there aren’t many other ways you can have an evening of fun for a mere twenty bucks.

Everyone antes, cards are dealt, then betting begins. The first person can either place their bet into the pot, or they can “check,” which means they don’t want to be the first person to bet.

Checking is a way to find out if anyone else thinks they have a strong hand. It gives you information you can use to decide whether you want to bet or fold.

Checking forces someone else to make the first move. If you check, and another player bets, then you decide whether it’s worth it to you to match that bet to stay in the round. If their bet is more than you want to risk, you can fold. But now you can make an informed decision, instead of folding without knowing what the other players were going to do.

This reminds me of how so many employers are STILL asking job applicants to offer their desired salary upon intake, even before the first conversation, and without knowing what the position’s salary range is.

It’s like the employer is checking, waiting to see what it’s going to cost them before they decide whether to bet on an applicant.

This, of course, is super frustrating for job seekers. They fear being pre-emptively ruled out for going high, or low-balled if they request too little. If they leave it blank, is that an automatic rule-out? What if they enter a range that’s too broad? Too narrow?

It’s impossible to make an informed decision when you don’t know what the other party is willing to offer.

A number of states and municipalities have enacted pay transparency laws. Even if yours isn’t one of them, why wouldn’t you want to give job seekers this critical piece of information? That way they can decide whether to stay in or fold.

Employers, let applicants see your bet. Give them the information they need to decide whether it’s worth it to them to have an initial conversation.

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