Colorado And The Case Of The Hidden Salary

I have noticed Drew McManus will get me riled up about an arts administration topic and then suggests I write an Arts Hacker post about it. Last week was no exception. Last Thursday he posted about how he had gone back to requiring employers posting positions on Arts Admin Jobs to include a salary range.  He had done so because there was a growing demand among job applicants and others within the non-profit world to have salaries included.

But that Drew also noticed an editorial on the Chronicle of Philanthropy (registration required) was making waves for suggesting that omitting the salary was in everyone’s best interest. And boy did that garner a spirited response from readers.

With good reason since part of the rationale seemed to be along the lines of someone being grossly underpaid at $40,000 would be too intimidated to apply for a job more appropriately paying $120,000, so it is better to keep the salary hidden….you know, for their sake.

There is a lot more to the effort than just some opinion pieces. As I note in my Arts Hacker post, Show The Salary started in the UK and is an international effort that probably extends even further than my research turned up.

There are definitely signs that there will be immense resistance by companies and organizations to list salary ranges. While there are a number of states and municipalities which have rules against requiring or discriminating against applicants who don’t provide their current salary, only Colorado requires employers to provide salary and benefits information in their employment listings.

As a result, a number of companies who allow employees to work remotely are specifically saying Colorado residents can not apply for open positions. Nike says residents will need to move from the state before performing any work.

Since there are a significant number of positions open in the arts right now, including at the executive level, there is an opportunity to create a strong precedent and expectation of listing salary ranges. Such a simple move is likely to exert a lasting influence and shift in the general work culture among arts organizations going forward.

There is more detail about the whole topic in my Arts Hacker post so check it out.


Time To Include #ShowTheSalary In The Hiring Process


About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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