New York City’s Pay Transparency Law Removes Key Hiring Barrier for Immigrant and Refugee Job Seekers

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Legislation in effect Nov. 1 sets equitable hiring precedent for local governments across the country

NEW YORK — For over 3 million foreign-born New Yorkers – especially women and immigrants of color – the search for a fair-paying job in the U.S. is one of the biggest challenges they will ever face.

But a fundamental shift in hiring practices is on the horizon – as of Nov. 1, New York City law now requires employers to publicize good faith salary ranges on all job postings, setting a precedent for local legislators across the country. New York state has already passed a version of the law through the state legislature, and the bill now awaits Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature.

“Because salary decisions are made in the dark, implicit or overt biases continue to shape hiring and salary setting decisions, artificially depressing wages for women and people of color,” reads New York State Senate Bill 9427. “Meanwhile, lower-wage workers, including those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, lack the information and leverage needed to negotiate fair salaries to escape these discriminatory practices.”

When employers provide compensation ranges upfront, it empowers workers to evaluate their worth and make better-informed decisions in the U.S. job market. In turn, immigrant and refugee job seekers – many facing tremendous barriers to employment opportunities due to a lack of U.S. cultural proficiency – have a more equitable shot at gainful employment.

“Most immigrant job seekers are not yet equipped with the professional tools to negotiate a fair wage in a brand new country, so when employers ask our immigrant job seekers for salary expectations, it can actually be a huge barrier for our candidates and puts them at a disadvantage,” says Kim Cohen, Director of Employer Engagement at Upwardly Global. “Salaries are yet another piece of the U.S. job searching process on their way to economic stability they have little guidance on. This legislation is a great example of how public policy can incentivize employers to act in a way that creates more inclusive hiring practices.”

According to a forthcoming study by Upwardly Global and Annie E. Casey Foundation, 60% of young immigrants and refugees find their skills undervalued, with that number increasing to over 70% for Black and Latinx immigrants. Often, evaluating their skills and translating those skills into U.S. labor market value proves extremely difficult.

“The job market is completely different – the job titles, the requirements,” says a job seeker from Afghanistan. “It was quite difficult to choose my career and choose where I wanted to go. The position titles, the different levels – manager, supervisor, associate; those were very difficult for me.”

Over 70% of immigrant job seekers found it unclear which career paths were worth pursuing, with a majority only able to dedicate 5 hours or less per week to the job search. With pay transparency regulated across the board, job seekers no longer have to play this time-consuming guessing game.

Upwardly Global, a national workforce development nonprofit, works to educate U.S. employers about the unique barriers professional immigrants and refugees face during salary negotiations and encourages companies to bend toward equity. Their job coaching program also teaches immigrant and refugee job seekers how to advocate for a fair salary in the U.S.

Although the workforce nonprofit actively addresses both sides of the coin, this salary transparency legislation lays a regulatory foundation for equitable hiring across the country.

Find more information on the New York City law here.

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Upwardly Global is a national nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate employment barriers for immigrant and refugee professionals, and advance the inclusion of their skills into the U.S. economy.

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