Time To Include #ShowTheSalary In The Hiring Process


By: Joe Patti

There has been a growing campaign internationally in the non-profit/charity sectors over recent years for employers to include a salary range when conducting job searches rather than utilizing vague terms like “competitive” or commensurate with experience.”

The Show The Salary website was started in the UK, but people in the United States and Canada have taken up the cause. People like Nonprofit AF blogger Vu Le frequently make Twitter posts directed at employers using the hashtag #showthesalary. Vu Le generally includes the sentence “Please always #ShowTheSalary, as not doing so perpetuates racial and gender wage gaps.”

The Show The Salary website expands upon the reasons why organizations should list salaries

2. You’ll make it a fairer process

There’s ample evidence that salary negotiation is not a fair process. For example, negotiation behaviours are perceived very differently depending on if it’s a man or a woman doing the negotiating. And Black candidates are often discriminated against and secure far lower salaries than their white counterparts. We’ve also heard direct stories from working class and LGBTQIA+ candidates that they have been discriminated against during the negotiation process.

So by hiding the salary, and relying on negotiation, you’re immediately putting these candidates at a disadvantage.

As well as debunking many of the rationales employers use to avoid listing them. (emphasis added to distinguish statements and responses)

“We have internal pay disparity and don’t want staff seeing other’s salaries”
We’d suggest dealing with the pay disparity rather than adding to it.


“The low pay will put people off”
Then pay a fair wage. They’ll be put off once they find out the salary anyway.

“The high pay will put people off”

You’ve benchmarked the role? Then it’s a fair salary, not a high one. And if you genuinely believe the pay will put people off, then maybe your job description / person specification isn’t clear enough on skills and experience needed. If you’re coupling a higher-level salary with a request for someone’s current salary then, yes, some people might not apply because, on paper, they won’t look like the right fit. But if your JD is right, you don’t ask for salary history then we don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about – remember, ads with salaries get around twice as many applicants.

There are a number of states and cities which prohibit employers from either asking you to provide your salary history and/or using the omission of salary history in an application as the basis for not hiring someone. In some cases these laws only apply to government employees or government contractors, in others it applies to all employers within the jurisdiction.

However, at the time of this post only Colorado requires all employers with a presence in the state to include a salary range and benefits in job postings.  As a result, many companies seeking employees to work remotely are specifically excluding Colorado residents from applying, or as in the case of Nike, say Coloradans who are hired will be required to move out of the state before performing any work.

The fact there is such strong resistance to including salary and benefits in job listings may indicate this will become a hot button issue in social and political discourse in coming years.

In the meantime, how job searches are conducted, including salary listings should be a serious consideration among all arts organizations, commercial or non-profit. At the time of this writing, there is a plethora of job listings in the arts, including an astounding number at the executive level. Not only will salary listings make positions more attractive to talented individuals, the internal conversations about the hiring process will create precedent and organizational cultural values going forward.

Joe Patti
Joe Patti
In addition to writing for ArtHacker, I have been writing the blog, Butts in the Seats (buttsseats.com) since 2004. I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (https://www.creatingconnection.org/about/) I am currently the Theater Manager for the Rialto Theater in Loveland, CO. Across my career I have worked as the Executive Director at The Grand Opera House in Macon, GA, at University of Hawaii-Leeward Community College, University of Central Florida, Asolo Theater, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Appel Farm Arts and Music Center and numerous other places both defunct and funky.
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2 thoughts on “Time To Include #ShowTheSalary In The Hiring Process”

  1. Dear Joe,
    Thought you might like to know…
    The word you have as “commiserate” [with experience]”
    in the first paragraph above
    should actually be “commensurate”.
    Great piece; thanks.

    • no, no I mean–uhm–you know because you get so poorly paid that you commiserate about your experience working so hard for so little pay.

      Thanks for the correction, I made the change


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