Why Employers Need To Stop Asking Women About Their Salary History

Photographed by Kieran Boswell
A new campaign is urging employers to stop asking people their salary history during the recruitment process.
Women's rights organisation The Fawcett Society said questions about salary history make it harder for workers – especially women, people of colour and people with disabilities – to increase their take-home pay.
The Fawcett Society's polling found that 61% of women feel less confident about negotiating a higher salary after they've been asked about their pay history. Nearly as many – 58% – said they felt they'd been given a lower salary offer after being asked this question.
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Meanwhile, 63% of women said they think more highly of a potential employer if they don't ask salary history questions during the recruitment process. The majority of women said their salary should be dependent on their skills, responsibilities and the value they add to the company – not what they've been paid in the past.
The Fawcett Society's report was released earlier this week on Equal Pay Day, the day women in the UK essentially begin working for free for the remainder of the year because of the gender pay gap.
"At best salary history questions are annoying and our research shows asking them can damage an employer's reputation," said The Fawcett Society's chief executive Jemima Olchawski.
“But it goes deeper than that – asking about salary history can mean past pay discrimination follows women, people of colour, and people with disabilities throughout their career. It also means new employers replicate pay gaps from other organisations. On Equal Pay Day we’re calling on employers to commit to closing their gender pay and to stop asking about past salaries."
The Fawcett Society notes that asking a potential employee about their salary history has already been "banned to some degree" in 21 US states. Meanwhile, nearly four in 10 British workers said they have lied about their salary history, suggesting the question is essentially pointless as well as discriminatory.

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