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:

  • Organizational transparency
  • Wages
  • Wage differentials
  • Executive compensation
  • Pay equity
  • Disclosure
  • Organizational accountability
  • Women's wages

Start with this rough exploratory search in Business Source Complete. Also try this slightly different search.

Sample articles from BSC:

  • As an academic source, the article above has references that you could explore, plus it's been cited by many newer articles and books since it was published in 2017. Google Scholar lists more than 60 articles that have cited it... including this 2021 article, which, in turn, has already been cited by at least 10 newer articles and books. Follow such leads rather than relying on repeated keyword searching!

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 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 fairly 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.

  • The article above 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 it's been cited over 1000 times!)
  • And the same CBC 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.

More examples of news articles that might lead you to studies and experts:

  • See the "Access" box in my blog post about the Financial Times for details on how to create an account as an SFU researcher.


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 conducted a survey on this topic in 7 countries, including Canada, a few years ago. 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? See, for example...

E. The (US) National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has published many working papers and conference papers on this topic. Start with this rough search. Be sure to

F. See the following report from Harvard's Journalist's Resource for a summary of the research on many initiatives meant to address pay gaps. Follow the links to the original research articles (search for them in the SFU Library catalogue if you don't get fulltext at first), and be sure to look up key articles in Google Scholar to see who has cited them since they are published.

G. (e)Books & Reports via the SFU Library Catalogue

A good book on a topic can save you a lot of time. Start with this rough search to find such resources as...

I hope that's enough to get you started. Check back later to see if I've added further resources. And do ask for help if you get stuck! -- MB>