Why employers need to end the culture of wage secrecy

category - society
sector - diversity & inclusion
type - opinion
The Future Laboratory’s people and D&I assistant Paige Owusu explains why it’s not acceptable for businesses to hide salary details and what we’re doing as a company to change our approach to wage transparency

In many working environments, the discussion of money is still a taboo subject. Employees fear being viewed as greedy when asking for more money, a feeling that is perpetuated by organisations shying away from sharing wage bandings or including salaries in the recruitment process. At The Future Laboratory, we believe that excessive discretion is not beneficial to anyone.  

What many organisations fail to consider is that openness with salary information benefits the employer. Research by SMART Recruitment online shows companies who post their salary information receive a 30% increase in applications. Applying for roles is time-consuming, and many people do not want to waste their time filling out forms and then going through an interview process only not to be financially satisfied with the outcome. It saves recruiters time as they are not communicating with people whose monetary expectations are not in line with their organisations. 

Not including the salary banding on job adverts is particularly detrimental to women. Historically, women have been told from an early age to be more passive and agreeable, while men are encouraged to be authoritative and assertive. This has led to men getting better deals during the salary negotiation process while women often settle for less than they deserve. Including the salary bands in job descriptions reduces apprehension when the conversation about pay begins.  

The lack of transparency when it comes to salaries is also damaging to the success of ethnic minorities. People of the global majority typically earn less than their white counterparts. Adopting a culture of secrecy when it comes to salary makes it more challenging for people of colour to know if they are being underpaid.  

Published by:

2 July 2021

Author: Paige Owusu

Image: The Future Laboratory


Left: Unity Works scheme. Right: Cat Bradley, co-founder of UCandu.

What The Lab is doing to tackle the issues 

The Future Laboratory now includes salary bands for all roles that are advertised on its website and LinkedIn. This enables applicants to know what financial commitments they are making from the start. 

We now offer all employees the option to view the salary bands for the entire company. The salary bands were created based on market research conducted by Glassdoor, Major Players & Impact surveys. We want to foster an honest environment where employees know exactly what they should be earning for the role they do. The Future Laboratory aims to remove the stigma surrounding earnings, and employees should be able to compare their salaries to those of their colleagues and negotiate better deals. 

Being secretive when it comes to wages is swiftly becoming an outdated practice. To create positive, trusting and progressive environments, employers cannot be omissive. 

‘We want to foster an honest environment where employees know exactly what they should be earning for the role they do.’
Paige Owusu, people and D&I assistant, The Future Laboratory

Want to read more about the steps we are taking here at The Lab?

You can read more on our post-urgency approach to diversity and inclusion, our approaches to Trans Inclusion and how we’re transforming the way we recruit in our Diversity & Inclusion series.