Views expressed in letters to the editor do not represent opinions of The Gazette-Virginian or staff members.
To the editor:
Pay transparency is the practice of openly communicating an organization’s salaries. It comes in many shapes and sizes, from small things such as posting salary ranges in job ads to full-blown payroll transparency where individual salary information is freely accessible to all employees, and in some areas, such as, Halifax County, county employee salaries are available for all to see in the local newspapers.
While talk about salary transparency has been ongoing for decades in the context of the gender and race pay gap and fair remuneration, employees have grown tired with opaque hiring processes and salary negotiations. Transparent salaries allow employees to be aware about how exactly their work is valued and help eliminate discrimination, making the workplace more equitable and welcoming. Right?
Halifax County prints all county employee salaries in the local newspaper for everyone to have a looksee. The reasoning for doing so has not been provided, but I direct these questions to Halifax County administration: is each county employer monitored to ensure pay equity and equality are the standard for every county employee? What measures are in place to prevent employer bias?
A lack of pay equity and equality in Halifax County has had a significant impact on the retention rate with several county employers, such as Halifax County Public Schools, Halifax County Department of Social Services and Halifax County Probation Office — and many more have an extremely high turnover rate.
A new teacher with Halifax County Public Schools salary was published in the local newspaper as $48,759, while very deserving new family services specialist employee with Halifax County Department of Social Services, whose positions require education credentials, as well as in-home visits, unknown health risks, unknown home circumstances, overnight on-call schedules, etc. are paid a low living wage, ranging from $27,000 to $38,000. The printing of every county employee’s salary revealed significant disparities in salaries, against each position’s educational requirements and job performance expectations. Employee pay is not equal and equitable, according to these measures for all Halifax County employees.
How will Halifax County correct this disparate practice? Will employee pay continue to be subjective according to the “director,” “human resources director” or whomever is leading each county employer, along with their own personal biases or will monitoring of county employers begin to ensure equal pay for equal work and a decent living wage?
A culture of transparency and productivity is one of the strongest things an employer can have if it wants all of its employees to be dedicated and working toward a common goal. Sure, as mentioned earlier, pay transparency alone is not enough. It needs to go hand in hand with fair pay practices — you cannot have one without the other.