Career Frameworks: The Foundation for Pay Transparency

Premierehire Executive search and leadership strategies


Nowadays, employees are demanding greater visibility into salary structures, driven by a desire for fairness and equality. Legislative changes are also highlighting the significance of pay equity, and requiring pay transparency [1] (see California’s new laws below). This is where career frameworks come in as an effective solution to meet these demands plus they have several significant side benefits. In this article, we will delve into what career frameworks are, the benefits they offer, and how they help you lay the groundwork for achieving pay transparency.

As a coach and consultant to businesses, I often find the lack of career frameworks is a root cause for many attraction, engagement and retention challenges due to the lack of transparency and potential for bias in pay which creates anxiety for many people. Pay, when managed effectively, can be a positive tool for companies. However, mishandling it can breed mistrust and resentment, hardly the emotions that drive engagement.
A recent coaching client expressed how negotiating his salary felt like buying a car. He just wanted to know that the offer was fair and know if there was room to negotiate. Just like when buying a car, he knew that if he discovered someone had paid significantly less for the same car, he would have been left feeling cheated and resentful. A well researched and structured career framework, that includes pay levels, can make the issue of salary, raises, and career progression a positive and productive process.

What is a Career Framework?

Picture a career framework as a roadmap that guides employees along their professional journey within your organization. It outlines different job levels, competencies, skills, and experiences required for advancement or moving into new areas of interest. Just like a GPS provides turn-by-turn directions, a career framework offers employees a clear understanding of what’s expected at each stage and the development opportunities available. It’s the compass that ensures fair pay practices and promotes transparency.

Benefits of Implementing a Career Framework:

Let’s explore the advantages of establishing a career framework:


  • Pay Transparency:

A career framework lays the foundation for pay transparency by establishing consistent salary ranges for each job level. Employees can readily see where they stand within the structure, enabling them to objectively assess their compensation and career progression prospects. This transparency fosters trust and minimizes pay inequities.

  • Consistency and Standardization:

By defining job levels, competencies, and expectations, a career framework ensures consistency in evaluating employee performance and determining appropriate compensation. Biases and subjective decision-making are reduced, resulting in a fairer compensation system.

  • Employee Development:

With a career framework, employees gain a comprehensive view of the skills and experiences required for advancement. They can chart their own course and take proactive steps to acquire the necessary competencies. This clarity fosters a culture of continuous learning and development, empowering employees to take ownership of their career growth.

  • Talent Acquisition and Retention:

Transparent career progression opportunities and clear compensation structures make organizations more appealing to potential candidates. Moreover, existing employees feel valued and motivated to stay within the organization, leading to lower turnover rates, stronger talent retention, and improved employee referrals.

Creating a Career Framework:

To develop an effective career framework, consider the following steps:

1.  Job Analysis:

Conduct a thorough analysis of job roles and responsibilities across your organization. Identify commonalities and group them into job families.

2. Competency Mapping:

Define key competencies required for each job family and align them with corresponding career levels. These competencies may include technical skills, leadership abilities, problem-solving capabilities, and more. Don’t forget to include competencies required to be an effective team member, uphold company values, and mentor others.

3.  Job Evaluation:

Evaluate each job family against predetermined criteria, such as complexity, impact, and required qualifications. This evaluation will help determine appropriate salary ranges for each job level, ensuring fair compensation practices. Be sure to use compilations of industry surveys, like CompAnalyst, to benchmark salaries.

4. Communication and Training:

Once the career framework is established, effective communication is crucial. Conduct training sessions and provide resources that clearly explain the framework, its benefits, and how it aligns with the organization’s pay philosophy. Encourage open dialogue and address any concerns or questions raised by employees.



By implementing a career framework, organizations can build a culture of trust, fairness, and transparency. A well-defined framework sets the stage for pay transparency, promotes consistency and standardization, empowers employee development, and enhances talent acquisition and retention efforts. Remember, just as a postive experience in buying a car requires trust and fairness, so too does managing pay within your organization.


California Pay Transparency Law and Guidance

The Author

Leanne Terrace helps leaders and teams reach higher levels of performance and fulfillment in their work.

Leanne serves as an executive & team coach, facilitator, leadership trainer, and talent advisor. Her coaching, tools, and proven processes transform organizational health, attract great people, and build great places to work because ‘people are the point’.

She and her team also help organizations find and retain top leaders with their 4 Phase Executive Search and New Leader Integration Solutions.

Leanne has over 25 years of executive leadership experience and is a certified executive and team coach (EMCC). She is a certified coach for Birkman Leadership Assessments and 360s and has extensive training with the Adizes Institute for Organizational Transformation, Robbins Madanes Intervention coaching, the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), and the Global Team Coaching Institute (GTCI). She also has a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Business from UBC.

Leanne serves clients throughout the US and Canada, ranging in size and industry.

If you are looking to elevate your team, your leadership, or your career, please send an email or book a complimentary consult.