Ian Wardle rarely applies for jobs anymore if they don't include a salary range. 

Wardle works in various positions in Vancouver's arts scene, including as a stage manager, tour manager and event producer. 

He usually looks for work on the B.C. Alliance for Arts and Culture's website, which primarily lists jobs in the non-profit sector. 

"I was discouraged to see a fair number of postings on the alliance job board that didn't include any information about salary or pay," Wardle said.

"To me ... the imbalance of information struck me as something that's just truly unfair."

Wardle took his complaint to the alliance, prompting the organization to change its policy and only allow postings that include a salary range

Many greeted the new policy with much enthusiasm, saying it will help close the wage gap for women and people of colour β€” and save time for employers and employees alike. 

But some human resources specialists warn that including salary details can be as detrimental for job seekers as it can be for companies. 

'We should just do this'

Wardle says if companies are going to include detailed and long lists of job requirements, it's only fair for them to also post how much they can pay. 

"Part of, for me, a respectful workplace is salary transparency," he said.

Wardle says he doesn't want to waste hours of time applying for a job that's not within a salary range he finds acceptable. 

The alliance's executive director, Brenda Leadlay, says her organization has received hundreds of letters of support since it put the policy in place. 

"It was the catalyst that forced me to say yeah, he's right, we should just do this," she said.

Perpetuating the wage gap

Leadlay suspects that organizations and companies in the non-profit sector don't post a salary range either because they're ashamed of how little they can pay, or because they want to see how little they can get away with paying an employee. 

She also believes that posting a salary range supports pay equity for women and people of colour, because men are more likely to negotiate their salaries at a higher rate.

A posted pay ceiling suggests the salary is more fixed.

That view is supported by the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor, which points out that women only earned $0.77 for every dollar their male counterparts make. Statistics Canada says the ratio is $0.87 north of the border.

"Pay secrecy policies serve to perpetuate these disparities," said the U.S. labour department in a fact sheet on the subject

Flexibility for employers

But not everyone is in favour of salary disclosure policies β€” and not for the reasons one might think. 

Cissy Pau, principal consultant at Clear HR Consulting, says posting a salary range can deter candidates who might not fit within those parameters but may still be a good fit.

"The advantage for some employers is it gives you a bit more flexibility," Pau said. 

"What if somebody comes in with no experience, isn't considered competent or qualified for the job, but has a great attitude?"

Similarly, Pau says companies may find a way to hire a qualified applicant with higher salary expectations than what the company was originally intending to pay. 

Meanwhile, other companies may offer a more extensive benefits package or more vacation time to compensate for a lower base salary. 

Taboo subject

Pau says another reason why companies often want to avoid posting a salary range is to keep that information from competitors. 

Lastly, employees themselves may not want their colleagues to know how much they make. 

"In North American culture it's still quite taboo to talk about how much you're making," Pau said.