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Let’s talk about pay

08 Apr 2021 | James Russell


#GoodWorkplaces provide transparent, fair, and equal pay for all employees, relevant to their roles. In this blog, BVA President James Russell shares his thoughts on why workplaces need to be more transparent and talk about pay.

Let’s talk about pay Image

Reward and recognition – what do you think of in that space? Maybe it is a pay-rise. Maybe it is a hearty pat on the back and a ‘well-done’. Maybe it is the perks package your employer offers. Maybe its all of these and maybe it is none.

Paying fairly and equally

In a good veterinary workplace, we’re asking that all employers are transparent about their policies for reward and recognition, and that through this transparency, they are able to demonstrate that they treat all employees fairly and equally within their roles. I still find it sobering that our Gender discrimination in the veterinary profession report showed those employers who were least likely to recognise that inequality between male and female employees exists, were those who were also most likely to differentiate pay between male and female vets.

In terms of making progress in this space, it’s important to recognise salary for what it is – a hygiene factor in terms of reward and recognition. That is to say that if you get wrong, it can be very detrimental. Getting it right gives you a good base to work from in terms of feeling rewarded and recognised, but no more than that.

Transparency is important

In reading through the BVA good veterinary workplaces policy position, I was interested to see the concept of radical transparency, in which organisations are completely open about their processes and data. In terms of pay, clearly showing what everyone is earning can help to prevent biases creeping into salary decisions, and it helps to show the team that they are being treated fairly and equally, relevant to their respective roles. 

Benjamin Franklin once said “there are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” Others have noted that whilst 95% of us think we have a strong self-awareness, only about 10% of us do. We all have our own biases which can affect our decisions, so transparency can help to encourage more open conversations and to challenge our beliefs in a non-threatening way.

Maybe this is part of what we can be doing as a team to begin to feel more recognised in our workplaces. Rather than shying away from those who provide feedback which challenges our self-views, we could move actively towards it. Our managers could deliver greater openness around the business, its needs and successes, as well as choices it faces. This transparency is different to being monitored or checked up on frequently. It will involve whole teams who come together to agree on the rules of transparency, and the ways to use it to nurture, encourage and develop each other.

Actions to take

So let’s talk more openly about wages and perks, as they are great places to begin. The BVA policy position contains a great case study showing how Government veterinary jobs are graded by pay scale, and how all jobs are advertised with the salary. We know that most veterinary jobs do not share this information, yet most candidates would appreciate it, so maybe it’s time to change that?

If we consider reward and recognition to be a cake, I hope that anyone reading this policy chapter will find in it the tools and recipe to create a more fulfilling cake mixture over time, rather than just changing the colour of the icing.

More information

Read the Reward and Recognition chapter on pages 38 to 41 of the BVA good veterinary workplaces policy position

This factsheet from CIPD explores the purpose of pay structures and introduces the commonly used types.

For more information on why pay transparency is necessary, read this factsheet from the European commission


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