If your work includes hiring in any capacity, you’ve most likely heard about the expansion of bans on salary history questions for applicants. Here’s what you need to know.
The Reasons Behind the Ban
These bans were created as part of a larger initiative to combat the gender pay gap, as well as pervasive pay issues concerning minority groups. As reported by the Pew Research Center, women earn 82 cents for every dollar men earn. For Black and Latina women this number gets even worse, dropping to 65 cents and 58 cents, respectively. These gaps are also equally impactful for men in minority groups, and persist even when the data is controlled for education. Looking only at the figures of those with a bachelor’s degree or more, Black men, Hispanic men, white women, and Asian women still only earn 80 cents for every dollar white men earn. Black and Hispanic women fall even lower, despite their education levels, to 70 cents for every dollar earned by white men.
A leading theory is that this issue is seeded from the moment these groups apply for their first jobs and only snowballs throughout their careers. By forcing companies to base salaries on merit or candidate salary requirements rather than previous pay, it is believed that the cycle of underpaying these groups will be interrupted before it can have a permanent impact on their careers. On top of this, many experts believe that these bans will benefit a wide range of applicants, including workers on a visa and even applicants who are moving from areas with low living costs to areas of high living cost.
With attitudes towards wage disparity changing palpably towards reform, these bans are only expected to increase in popularity over time. Even if you’re not in one of the jurisdictions where it’s banned, the frequency with which these laws are being passed may mean that you want to get in the habit of avoiding questions about salary history.
What You Might Consider Instead
Rather than asking about an applicant’s previous salary, experts recommend that you have a salary range in mind for all positions advertised and ask applicants about their salary requirements. By taking this approach, you can still determine whether the individual is within your pay range without running afoul of local or discrimination laws.