Salary Transparency

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A. This topic has many implications to consider, so keep an open mind about what might be useful for your audience as you search for information, and be sure to brainstorm with your group! For example...

  • Should companies reveal the salaries of all of their employees? Only internally, or externally as well?
  • What would the effects be on morale, recruitment, retention, etc.?
  • Would this only work in some industries or with certain types of employees?
  • Do expectations of employees of different generations play a role?
  • Are there likely to be cultural variations in acceptance of this practice?
  • Could such a policy improve gender pay equality?
  • Are pay discrepancies demotivating? In the absence of information, do people imagine larger or smaller discrepancies than actually exist?

B. Experiment with your search terms a bit: besides salary, try wage, pay, compensation...

C. Also consider omitting the word "transparency" and looking for research done on the effects/benefits of pay equity and on preferred compensation/benefits approaches for different types of employees, even in cases where there isn't perfect transparency.

Articles in journals and magazines

A. Try searching in Business Source Complete using various combinations of such Subjects as:

  • Transparency in organizations
  • Wages
  • Wage differentials
  • Pay equity
  • Disclosure of information
  • Organizational accountability
  • Women's wages

Start with this rough exploratory search in Business Source Complete.

Sample articles from BSC:

B. To find articles in journals and magazines from all subject areas, try Academic Search Premier.


Once a topic becomes hot enough for general news to write stories about it, you can usually expect a minor flood of such stories, each of which might mention key experts and relevant research. Follow all such leads!

For example, Iceland has recently implemented a national law about pay transparency and the BBC had a resignation of the head of BBC China on pay equality grounds, both of which were recent high-profile events that generated many news articles full of expert opinions and statistics. See, for instance, this Slate article.

For more news articles, search databases such as:

Also go directly to key news sites such as CBC News, and (again) be sure to follow any leads to studies and statistics that might be published elsewhere.

  • mentions: "A 2011 Princeton study" that "found that employees who are paid below the median for their group or unit enjoyed less job and pay satisfaction." I think this might be the full article from that study.
  • And the same article refers to a 2015 article: "Summing up: What Are the Limits On Workplace Transparency?" by James Heskett," which appears to be this article posted on Harvard's Working Knowledge site.

March 8: I hope you've been following the news on this topic as new articles are constantly being published, most of which include links to studies and experts. For example, see this NYT story, and these stores about the situation in Ontario.


A. This seems like the sort of topic that think tanks & research institutes might write about. Start by searching Harvard's free "Think Tank Search" tool to see what organizations and reports come up: e.g., sample search for "wage transparency."

B. Glassdoor recently conducted a survey on this topic in 7 countries, including Canada. The results are online: Global Salary Transparency Survey

  • As always, each resource you find should be a lead to more resources. In this case, you could start by searching to see if other sites, blogs, and articles mention this survey. Such resources may mention additional sources of the same sort, or they might bring up issues and perspectives on the topic that you hadn't yet considered. They might also critique the Glassdoor study, thus helping with your evaluation.

C. For another perspective on the topic, check out this recent report by the Economic Research Institute: Why Is Pay Transparency Important?

D. Deloitte produced the following report for the UK government: Trailblazing Transparency: Mending the Gap.

  • Perhaps it would be worth exploring Deloitte, PwC, E&Y, McKinsey, etc. for other reports of this sort?