How to Use Pay Transparency to Your Advantage

A group of job applicants of different genders and ethnicities

Many cities and states have passed pay transparency laws in the last few years requiring salaries to be included on job postings and/or that salaries be transparent among a company’s staff. The aim of these laws, for the most part, is gender and racial pay equity as the laws force organizations to come up with a justifiable pay scale for each role at their company. White women in the U.S. currently make about 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. There are additional benefits for both job seekers and hiring managers as well. Here are a few ways that you can use pay transparency to your advantage as an employer or employee:

If You’re an Employer:

If you’re required to include salaries or show increased pay transparency, or even if you’re not, this can be a great thing for your law firm. How?

  1. Pay Transparency on Job Descriptions Leads to Applicants

    Recent research shows that your candidate pool might be smaller if you aren’t transparent about pay in your job descriptions. Adobe’s Future Workforce Study found that 85% of Gen Z are less likely to apply for a job if the company does not include the salary range in the job posting. A survey by Resume Builder similarly found that 58% of workers are much more likely, and 27% are a little more likely, to apply for a job with a salary range provided. So if you want to ensure you receive high-quality (and discerning) applicants for your job posting, including a salary range will work to your advantage.

  2. Pay Transparency Saves You Time

    There is nothing worse than interviewing and making offers to candidates whose compensation requirements are outside your pay range. Listing a salary range in your job description—or at a minimum, revealing pay in a conversation between a recruiter and job seeker before a first interview—saves both you and potential hires time by taking the mystery out of potential pay. While candidates may be willing to apply for a job with a lower salary range if other factors meet their career goals, waiting until the end of a hiring process to reveal any information about compensation could lead to wasting the time of several members of your law firm’s HR and technology teams.

  3. Pay Transparency Closes Wage Gaps & Promotes a More Diverse Workplace

    While we all know wage gaps exist, the needle hasn’t moved much in recent years. Leveling the playing field is the main goal of the pay transparency laws. When a law firm creates a range for a specific position, it ideally will be based on responsibilities, prior education and experience required for the role, and expected competencies, rather than an individual’s past compensation or ability and confidence to negotiate for better pay. While variance of pay will still happen in this model, it’s within an acceptable range that can be justified based on a set of criteria. This, when done well, decreases liability for bias lawsuits, and improves wage gaps among your staff, which in turn can create a better (and more attractive) work environment for people of all genders and ethnicities. Diversity isn’t just good for your law firm’s reputation, it is also good for business: companies with a more diverse workforce are 35% more likely to experience greater financial returns and are “better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision-making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.”

  4. Pay Transparency Helps You Know What To Pay & Budget

    Methodically identifying pay ranges for every position and level of position at your law firm may be a daunting task, but once it’s done (and annually reviewed or audited), it actually makes things simpler for your firm. When you’re looking to hire an additional person for your technology team, you can budget for the increase according to your pre-determined pay range. If your process was well-researched and aligned with the market value for legal technology employees, you’re able to offer competitive compensation for every new hire and are more likely to retain your existing staff. It’s a win-win for your hiring managers and team.

If You’re an Employee or Job Seeker:

If you’re in a state that requires pay transparency, or even if you’re not, increased pay transparency can be a great thing for your career and job search. How?

  1. Pay Transparency Saves You Time

    One of the most frustrating parts of any job search is applying for a position with no real knowledge of if the compensation for that role matches your salary requirements. While you’re usually given this information up front if you’re working with an outside recruiter, you might not gain this information from a job description alone. With the growing number of states and cities requiring this kind of pay transparency, the mystery of potential compensation may be one you don’t (or soon won’t) have to deal with. Keep in mind that you might not qualify for the top of the pay range, but use the knowledge of the pay ranges for roles you’re applying for to help understand the value of your skills and experience and leverage that knowledge when compensation comes up in the interview process.

  2. Pay Transparency Can Close Wage Gaps & Create a More Diverse Workplace

    One of the ways you can help close wage gaps you or your coworkers may be experiencing is by researching your law firm’s job postings—if they include salary ranges as required by law, or by law firm policy—and the ranges of similar positions at other firms via salary guides, glassdoor, or job postings. This practice can help you identify where you fit within your position’s pay range, empowering you to have a conversation with your manager, and this may even potentially incentivize employers to ensure their pay practices are not discriminatory. Additionally, when a law firm is required to disclose the pay range for a position it limits your prior pay coming into play for setting your new salary. In fact, around 20 states even have laws banning companies from asking about previous salary history in the interview process. If pay transparency leads to pay equity, it may also lead to a more diverse workplace which can benefit you as an individual. How? Diverse workplaces create greater opportunities for professional growth, expose you to new skills, approaches to work, and give you a broader understanding of other people’s perspectives and experiences. This all may result in you and your tech team having new creative thoughts and ideas and better brainstorming and decision-making.

  3. Pay Transparency Can Help You Negotiate or Advocate for Yourself and Others

    One of the side effects of pay transparency policies is often pay compression, meaning that the range of pay for any given position may be relatively small. While this can lead to some difficulty in increasing your pay once you’ve reached the top of a pay range, it can also be viewed as creating an opportunity to negotiate or advocate for an increase in the pay range for everyone in your position. Equipped with the knowledge of what other law firms are paying for a specific position, you may be able to influence the pay range of a position at your law firm by having an open conversation with your manager or HR. This may actually help your law firm with retention, as well as help you and your colleagues receive the pay you deserve for your legal technology roles.

There are a few potential drawbacks to pay transparency (like pay compression or jealousy between employees) but the potential benefits are significant, especially if you committed to finding and leveraging the advantages for yourself as an individual, and/or for the good of your law firm. If you’re looking for help in setting criteria and pay ranges for your law firm technology staff or you’re wanting to seek to understand your market value as a legal technology professional, we’re here to help!

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