How Transparent Should Compensation Be?

Six in 10 Creative Executives Say Open Salary Policies Dampen Employee Spirits

Toronto, ON – Should professionals’ pay be public knowledge? Employers in the advertising and marketing fields don’t think so, according to new research from staffing firm The Creative Group. More than eight in 10 creative executives interviewed (82 per cent) said their organization refrains from publicizing employees’ compensation. Of those respondents, 61 per cent feel pay transparency would decrease staff morale.

Is there an upside to embracing an open salary policy? According to the survey, the top benefits of sharing compensation information openly are increasing productivity (18 per cent) and boosting recruitment and retention (17 per cent). However, more than one-quarter of executives (27 per cent) believe the potential risks outweigh any rewards.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, “Does your agency or firm have an open salary policy?” Their responses:





Don’t know/no answer




*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

Advertising and marketing executives were also asked, “What is the greatest benefit of instituting an open salary policy?” Their responses:

Increases productivity


Boosts recruitment and retention


Helps close the wage gap                


Creates an atmosphere of trust


None – the potential consequences outweigh any benefits


Don’t know/no answer





View an infographic of the survey findings.

“Regardless of your company’s position on sharing salary information, offering competitive compensation is essential for attracting and retaining skilled creative professionals,” said Deborah Bottineau, senior regional manager of The Creative Group. “Managers need to stay on top of hiring trends and salary benchmarks in their local markets to ensure they’re developing well rounded offers and keeping top talent satisfied with their pay, benefits and perks.”

Additional findings:

  • Open salary policies are most common at midsize companies (500 to 999 employees) and least common at large advertising agencies (100 or more employees).
  • More than half of marketing executives at midsize companies that don’t have open salary policies (51 per cent) think pay transparency would increase staff morale. In contrast, more than seven in 10 advertising executives at large agencies (72 per cent) feel it would have an adverse effect.
  • Advertising executives said the biggest benefit of an open salary policy is creating an atmosphere of trust, while marketing executives believe the greatest advantage is increasing employee productivity.

For information on the latest compensation and hiring trends for creative and marketing professionals, visit The Creative Group Salary Centre.

About the Research

The national study was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on more than 400 telephone interviews — with approximately 200 marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees, and 200 advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.

About The Creative Group

The Creative Group (TCG) specializes in connecting interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations talent with the best companies on a project, contract-to-hire and full-time basis. For more information, including job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and TCG’s blog, visit Follow us at and @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter for additional workplace news and hiring trends.