Show Notes

In this episode Michelle and Samah discuss why salary transparency in hiring practices is beneficial to applicants AND to companies. Without providing a salary (or salary range) companies are wasting both their time and that of their applicants. And applicants aren’t getting paid for the many hours that go into applying and interviewing for jobs they may not be able to afford to take.

Mentioned in this episode:


Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Welcome to the Underrepresented in Tech podcast, where we talk about issues of underrepresentation and have difficult conversations. Underrepresented in tech is a free database with the goal of helping people find new opportunities in WordPress and tech.


[00:00:19] Speaker B: Hello, Michelle, how are you?


[00:00:21] Speaker A: I’m good, how are you?


[00:00:23] Speaker B: I’m good. My voice is still a little bit finding its way back to my throat, but it’s. Everything is fine. I want to say congratulations on your apartment, by the way.


[00:00:35] Speaker A: Thank you. Thank you. I bought it on Friday and I’m not moving. I think when I put it on Twitter, people thought that meant I was moving. No, I’ve rented here for almost four years and so now I own it, which means I don’t have to move. Everything you see behind me will stay exactly where it is because I don’t think I have the strength and energy to make a move again. I’ve moved so many times, but I will die in this apartment someday.


[00:01:01] Speaker B: No, I hope it will be very after a very, very, very long time.


[00:01:05] Speaker A: Well, of course.


[00:01:06] Speaker B: But congratulations at least. I think it will be nice to have it., I was hoping that you move and I could take one of the guitars and one of the photos.


[00:01:17] Speaker A: I will send you photos, but the guitars are my dad, so those are okay.


[00:01:22] Speaker B: Okay. You can always ask, you know, that’s absolutely.


[00:01:27] Speaker A: I will give you any photos you want, though. I have so many.


Speaking of things like being able to afford where you live and buying a house or a condo or apartment, whatever you, want to call it, or a hut in the backyard.


We thought today would be a good idea to talk about pay transparency, especially as it comes to recruiting and hiring. And there’s been a lot of conversation maybe not so much recently, but over the last year, year and a half in WordPress about people posting at least a salary range, if not an actual absolute salary right when they put out job postings. What do you think about that idea?


[00:02:13] Speaker B: I think that is awesome. I think all companies should do it, not only WordPress companies, because, in the end, job seekers may waste time applying for a position that offers sellers below their expectations. Also, employers will be looking at these small specific groups while being honest about the salary and sharing more information will have a more different variety of applicants. I think it’s really awesome. It also gives more honesty and transparency about the salary, especially for unrepresentative groups when they apply. Because negotiation for your salary is something else for someone who is not from an unrepresentative group.


[00:03:05] Speaker A: Yeah.


So I have a story from what? This is almost 30 years ago now. So it was a long time ago. My daughter was actually. It might have been more like 31 years ago because she was still an infant, I think, at the time. So this. Yes, I’m old. Everybody, if you’re listening, this is a long time ago, but I was working at a college, and so I was working in college registration at the time. I did. I worked in higher education for over 20 years before I came to tech and WordPress. And there was an opening I was making.


It’s going to sound so pathetic when I say this, but it was 30 years ago. I was making $19,000 a year. That was my salary. Yeah. Believe it or not, as a single mom, I managed okay at $19,000. It wasn’t great, but I could put food on the table and keep us in an apartment.


But I found out there was a job at the. Well, I won’t say the school. It was a school in Atlanta, Georgia. Now I live in New York. Right. So would have been a very big move with no support system at the other end because I don’t know any. I didn’t at that time know anybody in Georgia at all, much less Atlanta. But I thought, well, it looks like it could be a good opportunity. It was to be the registrar. Not just working in the registration office, but the registrar for this prestigious school.


And so I did two or three interviews by phone. There was no Zoom 30 years ago.


Two or three interviews by phone. And then they flew me. They paid to fly me all the way to Atlanta. And I went through an entire day of applications and interviews, and they took me to a lovely dinner. They put me in this beautiful hotel, and then I flew home.


I think I was there just one night, maybe two, and then I flew home.


And then a few days later, I got the job offer. And I was so excited. But the job offer was for $23,000 a year, so it was only $4,000. And back then, yes, $4,000 was a lot of money, a percentage of the whole thing. But it was $4,000 more a year. And they would not pay for any additional benefits. So no childcare, nothing like that, which I didn’t expect, but it would have been nice. But they also would not pay any signing bonus or help pay for relocating me. So all of the cost of moving, finding childcare, all of that would have been on my shoulders. And even though it was a prestigious school I would have loved the title and the environment, because it was a very, very cool school. I couldn’t justify moving myself and an infant, basically, you know, the equivalent of, if I had to drive, it would have been over 20 hours in the car, driving maybe more. And.


And from that, I would. It would have. At least you would have had to find someplace to stay overnight on the way, because it’s just too long to drive, especially with a child.


But I would have had to foot the bill for all of that. And I didn’t have any. I mean, I was barely making ends meet. I didn’t have, like, thousands of dollars saved to be able to do that. And at the other end, I would have known nobody except the people that I worked with. So I was so disappointed.


And if they had put anywhere, in any part of it, in the.


The posting and the interviews, any of that before I went down to meet with them, I would have stopped. I wouldn’t have gone through the whole process. I wouldn’t have bought a new dress. I wouldn’t have taken time off of my job. I wouldn’t have done all of those things, wasted my time and energy, and got my hopes up for the whole thing just to have to decline it. And I was, gosh, how old was I? I was 24, maybe 24, 25 years old with an infant. And at the time, I was terrified to tell them no. I’ve always been a people pleaser my whole life. I don’t like telling people no, but I couldn’t in good faith say yes to that job. I was so disappointed that they took so much of my time energy and excitement away from me by not being transparent throughout the whole process of what they were willing to pay somebody for that position.


And that was 30 years ago.


It’s sad that so many companies still operate that way. And if you look at job boards and, you know, I do a lot with, with posting jobs in, in WordPress on Wednesdays. I have my tweet thread, I have WP career pages. I approve all the jobs for post status, and I am just so dismayed when they don’t put any kind of salary or salary range on there. I think it’s doing a disservice to people, for sure. And I think back to myself as a single mother who absolutely was a minority. Not a minority ethnically, but I was underrepresented in that. I was a woman trying to find these jobs and a single mother at the same time, and throughout that whole process, had such excitement thinking it was a registrar position. It should have paid a lot more money and it didn’t.


So we do disadvantage people when we don’t have some kind of transparency around what the pay pay scale would be.


[00:08:33] Speaker B: Yeah, I totally agree with you. Disclosing salary information upfront can lead to a more efficient hiring process. And also it can be honest and show the company they are transparent in their salaries. But sometimes the company, what they do is they give you this weird range between, for example, going to say to €2400 and €4000 and sometimes also negotiation. Um, my culture, where I come from, we don’t negotiate on salaries, we negotiate on buying anything. But in salaries, you don’t negotiate. And sometimes I find it very difficult and I understand it because people of color, or underrepresented groups, or women, when you are handed a job with a specific salary, they expect you to be grateful and say thank you, that you don’t want to have a hire because immediately you will find yourself discriminated. They ask you where did you graduate from? Where did you work? Especially if you’re moving from one country to another country, or from a small city to a bigger city. And at the same time, I think it’s, it will make everyone’s life easier. You will check out, okay, this salary suits me, can manage my life expenses, my expectation or not, and then it can be easier for everyone. But yeah, it’s like everyone should mention it. When I was reading the article that you shared, I was totally shocked. There’s only one WordPress company that shares the salary expectation, or let’s say the salary and their positions on the job posting, and the rest, don’t. And I was like finding it, wow. Everyone should mention it. It’s better that you at least attract the right candidate for your job opening.


[00:10:25] Speaker A: And I wonder, what is the goal when you don’t put out a salary range? Is the goal to try to get people who are qualified for the job, but you don’t want to pay them enough so that maybe they just, you can tell them how wonderful it is to work there, how great the culture is, and get them excited so that maybe at the end they’ll go, okay, well, I’m willing to take less money. Is that the goal?


Or do you do better recruiting because you say this is the salary range or this is the salary? I personally, understand salary ranges when they’re huge ranges. It’s like somewhere between, you know, $80,000 and $200,000. Like, be real, that’s too big a range. Like, I don’t know, but I’m exaggerating. That’s a hyperbolic statement.


But sometimes the range is $20,000, right? So, like $80,000 to $100,000. And you’re like, that’s a huge range, frankly. And so if I’m supposed to tell you my salary requirements, I’m going to say the top of the line, I’m going to say $100,000, then you’re going to say, well, wait, aren’t you supposed to negotiate on that? And I’m like, well, you said it’s up to $100,000. Why am I not qualified? Why would you hire me if I’m not worth the $100,000? So, I mean, it’s like, it’s this weird psychological thing that hiring does. And I’m sure that there are people who will say, no, there are other reasons, blah, blah, blah. But as somebody who, you know, has, I mean, I’m not looking for a job now. So if you’re liquid web, if you’re listening, I am not looking for a job right now. But I get, but I do get corded all the time. So I am constantly, at least once a week, and some companies will ask me if I’m willing to leave my current position to work with them. And so I always say, well, what’s the salary range? What’s this? And it’s like, oh, I’m sorry, no, I cannot leave where I am for that salary. You know, that kind of thing. And kind of at least give them some feedback, because, I mean, I’d be stupid not to at least ask questions, right? Like, I love where I am, but I want to know what’s going on in the world. And so I do ask questions, but, yeah, so, like, if, you know, if what I’m making now, you’re offering me $20,000 less, I will say no, absolutely. I’m not even going to try to apply for a job like that. But by putting the salary out there, by making it possible for somebody to see if that would even work with their lives. And I understand we’re in remote situations, so you put out a salary that you can afford, and maybe somebody lives, like somebody living in New York City, very much higher cost of living than somebody living in the middle of Pennsylvania. So there’s a huge difference. I live in Rochester, New York. Our, my county has one of the highest tax rates in the entire nation. And so it’s not cheap to live here. The cost of housing is expensive everywhere right now, but to live here, gas prices are high, cost of living is high. Food prices have gone up by almost 50%. So my grocery bill looks much higher than it used to look. But salaries have not risen commensurate with the cost of living. And to say like, well, your company is in the middle of nowhere, so this is what you can afford to pay. That’s great. And maybe somebody can afford to take that, but don’t recruit somebody. You know who, but you’re not going to recruit somebody who’s living in a higher cost of living area if at least you’re not telling them how much they would be making working for your company.


[00:13:52] Speaker B: So it’s also, I think some companies hide it from other employees, from their employees to know with the newcomers, what the new employees gonna get paid. And I know some weird companies, people are working in the same position from different parts of the world and they give them different salaries. For the person who is working, let’s say in the Philippines is getting a third of the person’s salary, let’s say in Greece and the person in Greece has half of the salary of the person living in the UK. And I find that is not being dishonest about the policy because everyone should get paid. It doesn’t matter if you live there or wherever or wherever you get paid the same salary. And most of the companies, that’s why they’re hiding it because they are kind of also saving some trouble from current employees. But I have a funny thing to tell you. In some countries around the world, your salary is public knowledge. You can find anyone’s salary, which is like in Norway, Sweden, and Finland, where your individual income is publicly accessible. And I was thinking about it, it’s good they have this transparency policy because they want to close the salary gap and they want to be honest about everyone’s salary so they can find out where are the issues and they focus more. The funny thing is people were complaining about it. They said, I’m getting paid, let’s say €5000 per month and I want to apply for a new job. I want to negotiate for a higher salary. But they were telling me like, you get paid €5000, we’re offering you €500 extra. We’re not going to give you €2000 extra. And it’s so, it’s like you, I understand you cannot be fully transparent with everyone sharing, but when job offer is, I think this is the minimum. You can share it. Yeah.


[00:15:59] Speaker A: In New York State, if you are a public employee. So, teachers, I’m not sure if teachers. I know that administration. Anyway, in schools, all of your public employees as far as government, there’s a website called through New York and you can look up anybody’s salary who is a public employee. So anything from the mayor of your town to the governor, of the State, and all of that is public information. And it’s kind of fun sometimes to go through and see what are your local government officials being paid and are they actually doing the work for that? Right, but that’s different. That’s different for sure. But, yeah, you made me think of that. But there are actually some States here where it’s required that you post salaries. Right. I think it’s Colorado, California, and maybe some of the more progressive States there are also. And I find this very interesting. And I follow, I know I talk about TikTok a lot. Like, TikTok is not just like, and I’m not just watching lol, cats and things like that, although they do come in my feed sometimes. But I’m following a lot of really knowledgeable people about business and about, you know, things that matter to me. So Deib and all of those different things. But there’s a fellow who gets, people will send him, like, screenshots of their WhatsApps with their bosses and things like that. And a lot of the time, companies are trying very hard and trying to make it against their rules for, let’s say you and I worked at the same place. For me to tell you how much I make or for you to tell me how much I make is an offense to the company, and we could be disciplined for it.


[00:17:40] Speaker B: Oh, my God.


[00:17:42] Speaker A: But it is not legal in any of the States to enforce that. And so, it’s interesting, right? But, especially here in the States, like, you never ask somebody how much they make. When I was a kid, I asked my dad, Dad, how much money do you make at your job? And he said you’re not allowed to ask that. I was, like, eight at the time. And I was oh, my gosh. You don’t ask people how much they make. And never since then have I said, how much do you make? Like, kind of thing, until I would say in the last five years when, you know, we talk, some of us talk amongst ourselves and say, well, how much are you making here? And how much are you making here? And are we commensurate and are we doing similar jobs? And is it, does it make sense? You know, and yes, there are definitely things that come into play, right? So different skill sets and different whatever it is, but definitely skill sets and different connections and things like that. That might make one person more attractive than another as far as hiring practices, but paying people for the same job, widely different amounts of money. I agree. I don’t think that is a fair way to do hiring. And traditionally, women don’t negotiate as well for themselves. Yeah, for those positions. So in my past lives, when somebody asked, how much do you want to make? I always have low balled myself when I could have gone higher because then I get hired at what I said, and then I find out that everybody else is making more money. I don’t like having to say how much I want. Tell me how much the job is paying and I will decide if I want to work there or not. And is that salary negotiable? Can we move up from the number that you gave me? Those are the questions that I would want to have today.


But I’m a stronger person than I used to be. I didn’t used to be that way. And I would hazard a guess that a lot of minorities and underrepresented people, probably don’t negotiate as well for themselves in similar ways that women tend not to as well. What are your thoughts?


[00:19:39] Speaker B: I think it’s also fear of backlash.


It’s like if you negotiate and you think to yourself, because I’m a woman, I should be grateful for them, they’re giving me money, or I should not sound so greedy because we learn not to be greedy since we’re little girls. Like, this is enough. People like, do not eat too much, do not be loud. And also that’s somehow printing in our brains. Do not ask for more money. Not because we aren’t worth it, but because we never learn how to ask for it. Like, no, I have ten years of experience. You’re offering from this range to this range. And I’m an upper, near higher skill. I deserve a higher salary. And also because we’re a little bit scared of being like this. I don’t want to say discrimination, like, oh, your woman, like, or where did you have a university degree? Or where did you work before? Or even worse, they ask you if you’re gonna have kids in the future, really, you want to have this job or the salary? And that’s all of it. If you put it in a weird mix, that would hold a lot of women not to negotiate or ask for higher salary, I will be honest. I have it. I still have it. Even at the end of the year when I feel like I did really well, I want to ask for a higher salary. In two months start to like practicing with myself in the mirror. What I’m going to tell my boss and I’m going to say it, which is literally weird. I am a strong woman, but still, I’m like scared of rejection. If someone told you, like, no, you not going to get it. And that’s all of the time, 95% of women think they’re gonna reject it, and then they feel not worth it. And it is like at the end, a weird mix. But yeah, women, we don’t negotiate. Men, they go for it. Like, if the salary is a maximum €5000, he’s going to ask for a €6000. We should be like that.


[00:21:42] Speaker A: Yes, exactly. It is. It is strange to think, like, that we are strong women, but we still come from a background of having been raised as, at least for me a timid girl. I was raised, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, I don’t know if I mentioned it to you, but, my high school guidance counselor told me I shouldn’t even bother to go to college. I should try to find a man and get married. I think I mentioned that a couple of weeks ago and I was like, I have an MBA now. I have a bachelor’s degree and an MBA. I have worked and I proved that I could do all of the things and I was in the top 20% of my high school graduating class. Why in 1987 did a woman tell me not to have aspirations? But that is my background. That is how I was raised. And that was the time period that I was raised in. I’ve tried very hard to break that mold. My daughter is a vice president at a bank in financial management. Because I never told her there were limits. I didn’t tell her there was a glass ceiling. I told her there was no ceiling. And so luckily, I was able to see how I grew up and then not do that to her as well. And so, I mean, not that she doesn’t have other issues. I’m sure I was not a perfect mother.


[00:22:57] Speaker B: I’m sure you are amazing Mom.


[00:22:59] Speaker A: So, I don’t know, she’s probably still in therapy somewhere. But that’s okay. We all have our own things and we all have our backgrounds and things that we have to overcome and whatever, but not being raised as a strong woman is not one of them for her. But it was for me. And I broke the imposter syndrome a very long time ago. There are very few things in my life today that I won’t go after because I am a human being like everybody else.


I have the knowledge, and I want to share it, but there was a time when I was afraid to ask for a salary when I was afraid to apply to speak someplace because I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough.


And so I want us to break that. And part of breaking that is actually paying people what they deserve to be paid. And part of that comes from having that salary, transparency, so that that person that Michelle of five years ago or ten years ago or whatever, could look at that job posting and decide if I could afford to take that job and whether I was going to put any time and energy into the application process. Just applying for a job can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour that is unpaid time that you could be doing something else with your life, maybe even making money, freelancing, whatever it is that you do, or just watching television and relaxing because that is actually valuable as well. So taking the time to apply for somebody’s job and going through that process and then doing interviews and then all of that, it’s at least a five to ten-hour process just to work to the point where maybe you’re getting a job offer all of that time unpaid, and then to get an offer that is below what you’re able to accept is heartbreaking. And I think that pay transparency, salary transparency can help break that cycle.


[00:24:44] Speaker B: Yeah, I should. I hope that. I hope everyone, all the company, someone hearing us and then we can make a decision. Just put the salary in your job, posting it saves people time. It’s also you can attract the right people for the job and people who want the job or not wasting time. And hopefully next time we can read an article. Instead of only one company mentioned the salary. All of the WordPress companies, are posting about jobs, they all, all of them mentioned the salary.


[00:25:17] Speaker A: Yeah. And the article that you’re mentioning is an article that Piccineri wrote for post status. Do you have it in front of you? What was the date of that? That was at least a year ago.


[00:25:26] Speaker B: If not, I think it was in September. It was on the 16th of September 2022.


[00:25:32] Speaker A: Okay, so it was a little over about a year and a half ago. And I think companies have been doing better since then, but it is not perfect. I will put the link to that article in the show notes so that if anybody’s interested in going back and reading that, they can see what we’re talking about.


But yeah, we welcome your input. So if you are a hiring person, if you’ve gone through a hiring process and any of this was something that affected you and your decision-making, if you have been somebody who is hiring, and you’ve lost candidates because your company didn’t post. We’d love to know about it. You can message us. We will keep things like if we talk about it in the future, we will keep you anonymous, I promise. But we’re curious. We’re curious what your thoughts were on any of that process, whether you were an applicant or you were the hiring manager.


[00:26:18] Speaker B: Let us know. Yeah, please let us know.


[00:26:23] Speaker A: Exactly. And if you have topics you want us to talk about, we want to hear that, too. You can hit up our contact form on our website which will let you tell us about any ideas. You can DM either one of us. You can DM our Twitter account, underrepresented. We would love to talk about topics that matter to you. So if you’ve got a topic an article or something you want to share, please send them to us. We would love to have an opportunity to read through those and give our thoughts on things. I mean, we’re just two people having thoughts, right? That’s what we do.


We do a little research, too, so that we make sure that we’re coming, to the podcast table.


[00:26:59] Speaker A: I’m making stuff up now with information and definitely with our own life experiences. And so I think that that’s, you know, hopefully, it’s something that you find valuable if you’re listening to us. And, yeah, we appreciate you. So thank you. Do you have any further thoughts on this, Samah?


[00:27:16] Speaker B: Not at all. Just let’s see everyone next week. We’d say see everyone next week. Like, I don’t know how to say it because they hear us. Hear us next week.


[00:27:32] Speaker A: Tune in next week for whatever topic we’re talking about. There you go.


[00:27:37] Speaker B: That’s awesome. That’s much better. Okay.


[00:27:41] Speaker A: All right, we’ll see, everybody. I just said it. Well, we’ll talk. You’ll see and hear us next week. How’s that?


[00:27:48] Speaker B: That is more perfect.


[00:27:50] Speaker A: Like, I love that.


[00:27:52] Speaker B: Bye-bye, everyone. Bye bye.


[00:27:56] Speaker A: If you’re interested in using our database, joining us as a guest for an episode, or just want to say hi, go to See you next week.




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Michelle Frechette

Michelle Frechette


Samah Nasr

Samah Nasr