Mandatory salary ranges in Ontario job descriptions won’t solve gender wage gap, expert says


Adding salary ranges to job descriptions in Ontario won’t help close the gender pay gap, according to one expert. 

The Ontario government recently announced it will soon introduce legislation that, if passed, will require employers to include expected salary ranges in job postings. This comes as part of a new legislation called “Working for Workers” set to be tabled in Parliament next week. 

“At a time when many companies are posting record profits, it is only fair they communicate transparently about how they pay workers,” Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development David Piccini said in a statement. 

In addition, the legislation will also require businesses to disclose the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in its hiring process. 

“…As the use of artificial intelligence in Ontario skyrockets, our government will continue to take action to ensure workers aren’t excluded from the job market because of technological biases and that their privacy rights are protected,” Piccini continued.

Although this new legislation is a positive development, experts say it is still not enough to solve the province’s gender pay gap. In Ontario, women earn an average of $0.87 for every dollar earned by men and this number is worse for racialized and Indigenous women.

In an interview with Now Toronto, Associate Director at the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management Lechin Lu says just because people will have pay transparency does not mean the gender wage gap will suddenly disappear. 

This is due to various factors such as fewer women being in higher-paying positions and the number of women in internal-facing roles, versus men who are known to dominate certain professional fields. 

“If we don’t change this professional divide, there is still a long way to go in terms of closing the gender gap. And also, it’s not just a single kind of issue when we talk about the pay gap, and gender is one thing but gender always intersects with other issues, other facets like social identities, immigrant status, education, accessibility, disability issues…then there’s racial identities and language. So, there’s all these different factors that intersect with gender. So…just by disclosing the hiring range by itself is not going to solve this problem,” she emphasized. 

Nevertheless, Lu says pay transparency still has its benefits such as saving people time from going through rounds of interviews only to find out the salary does not meet their expectations and providing more negotiation power to applicants especially those in marginalized positions. 

From a legal standpoint, Gregory Sills, partner at Levitt Sheikh, Employment and Labour Law, also agrees with this fact, that people deserve to know whether they are receiving a fair deal when coming to the table. 

During the hiring process he says the employer holds all the advantages, however with this new legislation, employers will be held accountable for being upfront with their salary intentions. 

“…At the time of hiring, the employer has all the bargaining power, right, they have the job, and the people need employment, people need to be paid. So, these types of things need to be construed in a way that’s very critical of employers, and that holds them to task,” he said.

“So, requiring this type of key component, I mean, everyone needs to know how much they’re making, especially in these times of high inflation. But you know, making it mandatory, this key component being disclosed is very much a step in the right direction and I think will lead to efficiencies for everyone,” he continued. 

Furthermore, Sills says if employees find out they are being underpaid, that can also lead to more employee turnover, which could result in a far more expensive hiring process. Thus, paying employees a fair salary can potentially generate employment consistency in the workplace, he concludes. 


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