Pay Equity Starts with Talent Acquisition

Pay equity is a topic impacting every talent acquisition leader today. Candidates are demanding salary disclosures around equity early in the process. And recently enacted laws in several states require companies to provide more transparency to job seekers. But as the conversations around pay equity pick up, most companies need more strategies or technology to support change. And the labor market has put some companies at risk when they need to run pay analysis, provide transparency, or invest in the right solutions.

What are the challenges with pay equity?

If you were to survey CEOs, over 90% would say that pay equity is important. So, what goes wrong, and why isn’t this being discussed during the recruitment process? Pay equity is complicated, and talent acquisition professionals face a number of challenges when trying to address it. Several challenges include:

  • Getting Leadership Support: Although most leaders support fairness and equality in the workforce, not every leader supports an equal pay philosophy. Lack of leadership support can negatively impact talent acquisition’s commitment to improving pay equity in the hiring process.
  • Lack of Pay Information in the Job Description: Companies invest in improving the language of job descriptions to ensure fairness but often need to include information on pay. Candidates must be made aware and guided during the screening, interview, and assessment process. Even in states that now require transparency, employers include wide ranges that provide little information. The need for more transparency in the job description impacts the ability of companies to recruit top talent.
  • Lack of Equal Pay Analysis: Companies can only address pay equity in talent acquisition once they understand their shortcomings. An equal pay analysis can help companies better understand what they need to improve.
  • Labor Market: Today’s labor market has made it challenging for companies to attract and recruit talent. The current market conditions influence the speed and the need to improve efficiency. Companies looking to move quickly to attract talent often ignore critical aspects of pay equity, including running pay gap analysis.

What are key strategies to consider?

  • Eliminate Salary Negotiations: Salary negotiations and the strategies to successfully negotiate are often only available to certain job roles. Not only do salary negotiations place undue stress on recent hires to navigate these contentious conversations (and potentially lose income), but they also often result in internal pay inequities among their employees.
  • Invest in the Right Technology Partner: In the new era of pay transparency, talent acquisition is on the front line of this important initiative. Solutions should provide TA leaders with the tools to define pay transparency, convert quality applicants to hires, and improve the new hire experience. As talent acquisition evolves, recruiters need flexible solutions to support candidates and employers. Solutions should integrate with an ATS, understand offers history, analyze compensation data, and create compelling offers built on transparency and trust. It combines data with authenticity.
  • Conduct Pay Equity Assessments: Companies must regularly conduct pay equity assessments to help to close the pay gap. Pay gap analysis can provide visibility into what needs to be improved in a company’s efforts to address pay equity.
  • Include Pay in Job Descriptions: Companies that provide pay transparency in job descriptions attract more talent and improve the trust between candidates and employers. In addition, by including pay information, candidates clearly know what to expect during the job process and if they will be compensated fairly.
  • Remember High-Volume Hiring: As companies rethink their talent acquisition strategies for the next year, high-volume recruitment must be a priority. Pay equity is not a new topic in high-volume recruitment, but it plays a major role in decision-making today. According to Aptitude Research, 70% of companies believe they are losing high-volume talent because of pay transparency and inequities. Companies with low hourly rates or not offering competitive rates will lose candidates in the process. Aptitude Research found that 44% of candidates who drop off in the process do so when they find out the pay for a position, and 30% of candidates learn about pay during the apply stage. Not disclosing pay until later in the recruitment process is not the solution. Companies must consider their approach to compensation and the direct impact on talent acquisition and recruiting efforts. 


  • Madeline Laurano

    Madeline Laurano is the founder and chief analyst of Aptitude Research. For over 18 years, Madeline’s primary focus has been on the HCM market, specializing in talent acquisition and employee experience. Her work helps companies both validate and re-evaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. She has watched HCM transform from a back-office function to a strategic company initiative with a focus on partnerships, experience and efficiency. Before founding Aptitude Research, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media and Brandon Hall Group. She is the co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and is often quoted in leading business publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, The New York Times and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference, Unleash, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today. In her spare time, she is a runner, an avid sports fan and juggles a house full of boys (where a spontaneous indoor hockey game is not unheard of!).