Showing Salaries Is Finally Catching On So Why Pump The Brakes?

It’s taken a few decades but nonprofit performing arts orgs are finally becoming comfortable with including salary ranges and hourly rates in job postings.

The road from there to here was long and uphill; for instance, when Arts Admin Jobs began in 2011, I included a salary range field as a mandatory item and employers spurned it as they would a rabid dog. Once I relented and removed the requirement, listings flowed in, but only a few included compensation information.

Thanks to a growing chorus of voices, like Vu Lee and @ShowTheSalary, employers began to come around to seeing the benefits of including salary ranges and hourly rates. So much so, that in the last major update at Arts Admin Jobs, I reintroduced the salary/hourly rate fields.

Even though they aren’t required, 60 percent of the listings at the time this post was written include salary/hourly rate information. Of the other 40 percent, half of those are from the same three orgs, each with multiple listings.

This is fantastic news!

So you can imagine my surprise when I came across an article at by Vincent Robinson trying to convince readers that including salary figures was a bad thing, especially for diversity.

If that seems odd to you, that’s just a good sign that you’re still sane because the reasons the author lists to support the idea that compensation transparency is bad don’t hold much water. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the author’s position has been getting hammered on Twitter by a flood of logical responses.

While I understand Robinson’s points, I agree with the vast majority of sentiment responding to his article. If tweet learning isn’t your thing, you can get all of the salient points in 4:13 of entertaining edutainment from this popular segment of Adam Ruins Everything. It does a superb job at explaining why salary transparency is the rising tide that lifts all boats.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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