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Moving toward salary transparency, one question at a time

Now that many states and localities are recruiting salary transparency in job postings (thank you, Colorado, California and New York!), we are seeing a radical shift in conversations about salary across the board. We know that there is a natural and inevitable disruption in some spaces, in parts of our professional community, and in some specific organizations, as some employees find out they are being paid differently less than others who are doing the same or similar work. We also know that it’s equally challenging to initiate conversations at the organizational level when we may not have allocated the time or the resources to tackle questions of compensation, yet. The time has come to hold each other–and our employers–accountable and provide the resources for those who are ready to have honest, transparent conversations about salary and how pay is structured, as we are moving toward equity across our Jewish workplaces. Salary transparency requires steps toward real and authentic transparency. We invite you to talk about this with your colleagues, even when it is hard.

If you are excited about this effort, and eager to invite other folks to participate and contribute their data, we invite you to do so. We are better for the participation of a broad cross-section of our community, and our work becomes that much more equitable. We know that lots of questions will come up--and even more so, that folks may look to you as a resource and ask questions of you. If you are interested in inviting your colleagues to participate, here are some recommendations for language that you can use to help encourage others to take part.

  1. Are you familiar with the Gender Equity in Hiring Project’s Open Salary Spreadsheet? If not, I’d love to tell you more.

  2. If you’re interested in benchmarking your salary, the Open Salary Spreadsheet might be a good place to start.

  3. Have you considered contributing your data? By doing so, you’re making it possible for others to learn about what’s fair across the field, and to make their own asks as they negotiate.

  4. Have you considered contributing your data? When you do, you can then easily access others’ data, and benchmark yours against theirs.

  5. It’s so exciting that you contributed the last time. Have you contributed to the newest version? If you contribute, then you’ll make it possible for others to learn from your data….they will have the chance to rise along with you.

If you know that folks are reticent about contributing, and want to wonder with them about the implications of participating, here are some recommendations for language that might be helpful as you share why participation might be useful. They may have questions, or be confused about how this might benefit them. You might wonder on your own, with a colleague or a group of colleagues in community.

  1. Are you familiar with the Gender Equity in Hiring Project’s Open Salary Spreadsheet? I’d be glad to share more.

  2. You might already be familiar with the Open Salary Spreadsheet from the initial experiment a few years ago–it is so exciting that you contributed the last time. Your data will be such an important addition to this new collection.

  3. Have you ever struggled to benchmark or analyze your salary, or find colleagues to talk to about your salary? What was that like?

  4. Why might benchmarking salary this way might be a good place to start?

  5. What’s the value of transparency when it comes to salary? How might you–or others– benefit?

  6. Something about this makes me feel uncomfortable. How might we try to understand that discomfort and work around it? Where is this productive discomfort, and what can we learn from it?

  7. What here benefits me? What might I overcome in order to participate?

  8. What might I overcome in order to help support others? What do I need to support others?

What other resources do you need?

How else can we help?

Our role is to support our community in having the challenging conversations that lead us to changes in culture, that lead us toward equity, and that empower each of us to do that hard work of moving toward bold action one tiny step at a time. We know that it’s hard to convince others. It’s especially difficult when it’s hard to imagine the benefits. One of our goals is to invite our colleagues across the Jewish community to be a part of our efforts at transparency, both inside our organizations and in our conversations and relationships. While we also seek those shifts toward transparency, and we believe that knowledge and data will help us move toward that change, we also know that we can imagine change together by asking questions, considering how transparency benefits us, and taking small and bold actions toward that future we seek.


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