Should there be total transparency of salaries?

If you look through the current job advertisements on The Bookseller you will find only a few that disclose a salary band, and a couple that give a salary grade. When there is so much clarity elsewhere, in the salaries and rewards of other industries, isn't it time we made salaries in publishing more transparent?

Is the lack of transparency and the feeling that the jobs always go to someone you know one of the reasons for the lack of diversity? 

Think about it, who would want to come into an industry where they don't know how much they will be earning before they apply for the role, aside from 'competitive' or 'according to experience', let alone know what their career path looks like in earning terms? That to be brilliant at your job doesn't equate with a brilliant salary package or regular pay rises, instead it's a pat on the back, a well done accompanied with a glass of warm white wine. Wouldn't it be great to know that good work has financial rewards too, something that has meaning? Let's be honest, in 2017 cold hard cash carries more meaning than anything.

Then there is the equal pay issue. The Office of National Statistics reports that men currently are paid on average 18.1% more than women.  In publishing, thanks to the salary survey, we know this gap was 16% in 2013, so better than the national average but in an industry populated with women (81.8% of respondents), this is shameful. The UK government might be starting to address this - going forward companies of more than 250 employees will have to publish gender pay details. But is that going far enough? What other moves could be made to ensure there is no more gender disparity? Clarity with salaries on recruiting would go a lot to solving this.

Also, are older people in publishing now being sacrificed for the enthusiastic novice, because they cost too much to employ? Frequently senior figures in publishing are finding their roles are made redundant because someone thinks (often wrongly) that a person with less experience and who commands a lower salary could do a similar role, on much less money. What companies fail to address when making senior staff redundant is that the loss of company and industry intelligence can be detrimental to future planning. The go-to person in the office who 'knows stuff' and can recognise the strengths and weaknesses in a project can be extremely helpful when a company is aiming to remain competitive. Yet time and again, the decision to downgrade a job seems to be purely financial, understandable when income and profits are down, but a fair number of these restructures are happening with companies that are thriving and reporting high profits.

So this is a call for clarity on pay and remuneration, a corner I've been fighting since first publishing a salary survey in 1995. You can help this cause by contributing your data to the Salary Survey 2017 (sponsored by Inspired Search & Selection Ltd) and encouraging your colleagues to do likewise. Anonymity is guaranteed. It also helps provide information on demographics and employment trends within the industry. You can participate here.

Suzanne Collier is the founder of, a career development consultancy focused on book publishing, providing career guidance at all levels for those within the industry. The Salary Survey 2017 closes at midnight 28th July 2017.  Early results will be published in September 2017.