The rollout of New York City's salary transparency law on Nov. 1 was kind of a disaster: During its first few days, New Yorkers called companies out for posting $2 million pay ranges, deleting posts and advertising six-figure bands that tested the law's requirement to post "good faith salary ranges."
As of Nov. 1, 46% of all NYC job listings included salary ranges, according to data on tens of thousands of job ads from Glassdoor, the job search platform.
Now, several weeks out, more employers are listing their pay ranges, though disclosure is far from universal: 60% of job listings in NYC have employer-provided salaries as of Nov. 12, according to Glassdoor.
Businesses that don't comply and are reported to the city agencies enforcing the law have 30 days to fix their postings, otherwise they could be fined up to $250,000 per violation or taken to court.
Businesses in some sectors are better than others. Unsurprisingly, industries that have historically publicized pay have the highest share of job listings with employer-provided salaries, as of mid-November:
- Government and public administration: 69% of ads list pay
- Nonprofit and non-governmental organizations: 68% of ads list pay
- Human resources and staffing: 67% of ads list pay
- Transportation and logistics: 63% of ads list pay
- (tie) Media and communications: 61% of ads list pay
- (tie) Restaurants and food service: 61% of ads list pay
Companies willing to disclose pay upfront understand it can cut down their time to hire, especially in a tight labor market. It can be a boost to their brand reputation, too. Jobs with salaries listed generally receive more applications than ones that don't, says Glassdoor CEO Christian Sutherland-Wong.
Workers overwhelmingly favor salary transparency: It encourages them to apply to jobs and improves the hiring experience. "It takes away the burden of feeling there has to be a long and hard negotiation at the end," Sutherland-Wong says. By the time candidates get to the offer stage, "people will know you're being transparent and not low-balling them. Employees appreciate knowing where they stand and that they are being paid fairly."
Meanwhile, employers in professional services are the slowest to add salary ranges to their job postings as of mid-November:
- Pharmaceutical and biotechnology: 29% of ads list pay
- Information technology: 37% of ads list pay
- Financial services: 37% of ads list pay
- Manufacturing: 41% of ads list pay
- Aerospace and defense: 43% of ads list pay
These professions have historically been less transparent about pay, Sutherland-Wong says, so their slow uptake to comply with the law isn't completely unexpected.
Though disclosure is now legally required, many companies continue to be pretty vague about their ranges. In October, before the law was enacted, employers who opted to provide pay ranges on job ads had a median pay range of $10,000. By November, that median salary range widened to $20,000.
Before it was required by law, jobs with greater salary transparency tended to concentrated in low-wage and hourly work, like in the food service industry, Sutherland-Wong says.
Now that it's required of all jobs, high-paying roles with greater salary floors and caps could be driving up median ranges overall. Still, Sutherland-Wong adds, many companies are likely providing broad ranges to keep things flexible for themselves while still technically complying with the law.
And though six-figure pay ranges drew the ire of the internet, less than 3% of daily active job listings in November have a salary range wider than $100,000, per Glassdoor.
While laws like the one in NYC are generally off to a good start, "there's more work to be done here, and it's still early days," Sutherland-Wong adds. "It'll take some time for companies to get their act together."
As experts predicted, NYC's law is pushing employers elsewhere to enact their own salary transparency policies.
As of October, 40% of jobs in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York state (excluding NYC) listed salary ranges; by November, that share ticked up to 46%.
Experts say it's only a matter of time until requirements come to the rest of the U.S.: Colorado instituted its own pay disclosure law in January 2021, and similar laws are coming to California, Washington and Rhode Island by 2023.
Glassdoor, which began listing pay ranges on job openings in November 2020, says the practice holds them accountable to rooting out pay biases among underrepresented groups — especially taking a closer look at racial and gender wage gaps.
That's not to say companies who don't disclose pay ranges don't also do these audits, but a formal and public practice holds companies accountable to analyze and address pay inequities, "otherwise employees will do it themselves," Sutherland-Wong says.
"Companies who lean into transparency generally do better when it comes to paying fairly, and those who lean out are ones you should be watching out for. People tend to do bad things in dark corners that they wouldn't in the light of day."
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