You’re not serious about equity if you don’t post salaries

The word SALARY written on a chalkboard above a pink piggy bank.
Nov 19, 2019
4 minute read
Equity • Governance • Leadership • NTEN News • Organizational Culture

The NTEN job board is a popular destination for job seekers. It's consistently one of the most popular pages on our website. So when we created our DEI strategy we knew that the job board had a role to play in furthering our commitment to equity, particularly racial equity.

And so in September, we made it a requirement that every posting must include a salary or salary range. The salary may seem like an obvious thing to state in a job opening, but it's actually quite common for organizations to advertise an open position without listing it. When we recently commemorated the first time that all the board postings included a salary, we were asked to share how we arrived at our decision to make salary inclusion a requirement.

We've long pointed job board users to the Nonprofit AF blog post by Vu Lee because it's an awesome post. It highlights many reasons why this practice is wrong, and sharing it means we're highlighting a leader of color that we support and respect. We'll continue sharing Vu's awesome post, but only linking and not writing our own post was taking the easy way out. We perpetuated a harmful practice of waiting for those with more marginalized identities to do the work of naming oppression. We want to do better than that, so we are adding our voice alongside Vu's to echo and amplify the message.

So, what's the big deal about posting salaries? There are lots of big deals, actually. First, if you haven't already, go read that post by Vu.

Second, posting salaries in job descriptions signals much about what an employee can expect at their organization — trust, transparency, and respect. It also means that as an organization, there's more likely to be parity in salaries across staff since they are made public when open.

Third, the burden to "prove" a potential employee's worth to negotiate an appropriate salary is removed. This is a gender equity, racial equity, and intersectional identity equity issue. I don't have to link to a study that shows straight cis white men are the most likely to negotiate for salaries or to win those negotiations. You can do a quick search and find a whole lot of that evidence. Instead, let's acknowledge that basically everyone else lives in a world where they systemically have not been supported in learning to negotiate or given positive responses to their attempts. So let's remove the stress of negotiation for everyone.

Fourth, people can't decide whether or not to apply for a job if they have no idea if it will provide the necessary income to cover their household costs. Don't make them go through a laborious interview process only to reveal a lower salary than the rest of the market.

Fifth, job responsibilities vary across organizations, so you can't make assumptions about what a manager, associate, or director title means. Salaries tell potential employees if the job is right for them regardless of the unique title structure your organization may have in place.

And, though it isn't part of our requirement for the salary listing, I encourage every organization to share the benefits associated with employment publicly. This full picture of compensation helps you make a case for why applicants should want to work there. It respects that applicants need this information to make a confident decision about whether the job is right for them. NTEN lists our employee benefits publicly so that even if we don't have an opening, people can always review the benefits and decide if they would want to apply when there is one. You can do the same!

The bottom line is this. When you're not willing to post salaries, you're telling potential applicants that you're not committed to equity and that you don't respect their time. Why would you want to start the relationship this way? And more importantly, why should anyone want to work for you?

Amy Sample Ward

Amy Sample Ward



Amy is driven by a belief that the nonprofit technology community can be a movement-based force for positive change. Their prior experience in direct service, policy, philanthropy, and capacity-building organizations has fueled Amy's work to create meaningful, inclusive, and compassionate community engagement and educational opportunities for organizations around the world. As the CEO of NTEN, Amy inspires the NTEN team and global partners to believe in community-generated change. Amy believes technology can help nonprofits reach their missions more effectively and equitably, but doing so takes intention and investment in training, access, and collaboration.

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