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  • Writer's pictureMark Harbottle

The Invisible Value of Transparency

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Transparency, noun

Definition: The quality of being easy to perceive or detect.


I’m going to come back to that definition again over the course of this post. We practice a Principle of Truth at Cronofy, and while that encompasses complete honesty, it also incorporates transparency. The freedom gained from confronting the truth is where high performance and trust comes from.


Transparency, for me, comes in the form of truth. By sharing everything and giving you all the information that we have, there is an increased level of trust which leads to better outcomes. I’ve been researching career pages recently (looking for inspiration to improve ours) and it became abundantly clear that a lot of organisations talk about transparency but don’t truly practice it. I’m going to share - through the lens of recruitment - how we’re practicing truth and transparency.



Advertising salaries


A very heavily debated topic in the LinkedIn jungle. There are really strong opinions on either side and while I share some of them, I’m not about to jump into a debate. For me, I simply believe that by not sharing salaries you’re creating more uncertainty than if you shared them.


I understand that organisations don’t want to share salaries because it may have a negative impact on an existing team. It might be significantly higher than what employees are being paid. That, dear reader, is a you problem. Not the candidates’. It might imply that you’re not paying your team fairly.


You might not be sharing salaries to prevent competitors from poaching your staff. Another fair point. But research these days (check out our candidate expectation report) tells us that employees want more than fair salaries. They want flexibility, ownership, rewarding benefits, they want a voice, they want to make an impact. If the entire package of your Employee Value Proposition is strong, then why would someone want to move? It’s not just about the money!


We don’t just share salaries for our jobs without consideration for what we’re paying. We’ve spent a long time building a benefits package that we believe is competitive. We understand what’s great about working here and we shout about those things. We lean on tools that allow us to benchmark salaries and we make an effort to pay market rate at all times.


If I were to apply for a job that didn’t share the salary, I would probably have one of two reactions:

  • The salary is so low they don’t want me to know

  • They’re going to ask for my salary expectations and it’ll be a difficult conversation because I don’t know the answer.


You’re creating an environment where a candidate feels uncomfortable, which should be the opposite aim for your candidate experience. Not sharing salaries makes it harder to perceive (see transparency definition again).


So you know which side of the fence I sit on. In some states of the US, it’s even a legal requirement to include salary bands for roles. If it was made law in the UK, would you have to make many changes internally in order to share your salaries?



Transparency of the interview process


I think there’s some unwritten rule somewhere that says the role of an interviewer is to put candidates on the spot and see their reactions to difficult questions. If they can give great answers while thinking on their feet they must be right for the job. But what if you don’t think that way? What if you have a different learning style? what if your best work is done after some consideration and you need to take problems away, think about it and come back with the best answer ever.


The best coffee isn’t always instant*

I believe that if candidates know what you are looking for, then they can formulate answers that best represent their skills and experience. It won’t be cheating, because it’ll be based on their own experiences. You're making it easier to detect what you're looking for (remember that definition again?).


We’ve produced a docs page called Interviewing at Cronofy which details our entire recruitment process, from application to offer. We provide details of our assessment criteria, and what we’re looking for during interviews. We have information on the format, dress code, our working environment, and much much more.


My feeling here is that I’m covering a few bases:

  1. Candidates are more informed, and therefore more likely to bring their best self to interview. We all have off days, but this allows someone the space to better prepare for a conversation with us. Our interviews are now of much higher quality, with better answers that give us enough information to make a more informed decision

  2. We’re catering to different learning styles and demographics. An easy example would be neurodiverse applicants, who may need to see information written down for complete clarity. We’re indirectly contributing to our ED&I (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) initiatives, but at the same time ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity with the same information

  3. I’m saving myself time. Better interviews = quicker hires. At the same time, I’m not answering the same questions; ‘What’s the dress code?’, ‘What tips can you give me for my interview with XYZ?’, ‘How long will the interview last?’.

  4. This transparency-with-nothing-to-hide approach is a reflection of our culture too, which helps candidates understand if this is somewhere they want to work

I came across a careers page recently (I won’t name names) that specifically talked about transparency and their clear interview framework in the same sentence, but they hadn’t shared the interview framework. That’s about as transparent as a car with stained glass windows.


I’m not saying that organisations need to start laying out their entire recruitment process for the world to see. Every company interviews differently, and the nature of some roles or industries might mean some things have to be unsaid. If you think that, then I would really push you to interrogate it. You should be asking yourself:

  • Would candidates be better off, or perform better, knowing more?

  • Can I help them to help themselves?

  • Are we hiring the best people for our roles? (follow up - how can you be sure?)

I receive a LOT of positive feedback from applicants, even those unsuccessful, who have commented on how positive their experience was interviewing with Cronofy. Our docs page has been a major contributing factor to this.



This is our culture. No, it really is!


Honesty

Trust

110%

In it to win it

Writing ‘don’t be a d*ck’ on the wall


These are all very weak examples of defining your culture. Candidates want to know what it’s like working there, what will be expected of them, what can they expect from their peers and managers. Where the lines of accountability are.


If I was told at an interview ‘so you can do whatever you want, just don’t be a d*ck about it’ I’m going to think that my version of being a d*ck probably differs from someone else's. Also, without some clear guidelines there won’t be any consistency, and that culture can’t scale.

(I’m intentionally ignoring the fact that this phrase is not inclusive whatsoever, and could deter certain demographics of the population from applying).


The other examples above are generic statements that could be applied to any organisation. Everyone wants trust, everyone wants honesty. My point here is that no two cultures are the same, and I believe candidates deserve as much information as possible to learn about the culture and assess whether they’d be a fit.


I talked earlier about our Principle of Truth. We’ve defined it as:

Honesty is not just the right thing to do. Lies and half-truths can feel expedient in the short-term, but the freedom gained from confronting the truth is where high performance and trust comes from.

There’s no ambiguity here, and it’s super personal to us. You’d expect a candidate to know that to perform well at Cronofy, complete truth is non-negotiable. It’s not always easy or comfortable, but it works for us.


This is something that a lot of organisations have tried hard to do - lay their values / morals / ethics / principles out for the world to see. And rightly so, I’m sure they’re proud of them. My point with regards to transparency is that you should be asking yourselves whether this truly is your culture, and if it’s completely clear to candidates what it’s like working there.



Final thoughts


I believe at Cronofy we’ve gone beyond the normal levels of transparency for our applicants, and we’re offering the best possible opportunity for someone to bring their best self to interview. I also feel this heavily impacts our employer brand, while strongly representing our culture.


I’m about to get off my soap box, but I want the key theme here to be about leaning into transparency instead of holding it at arm's length. In recruitment, more transparency leads to better hires - you won’t change my mind on that. It’s easy to hide behind difficult questions and blame the candidate, but can you be doing more to maximise the value of those interviews?


Don’t be a stained glass window.


Check out www.cronofy.com/careers to really understand our levels of transparency.


(*the best coffee is never instant.)

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