Amazon Will No Longer Ask Your Salary History – A Win for All, But Especially Women

It’s the HR interview question that many dread the most: “Where are you at right now with your salary?”
This question has long frustrated job seekers, mainly because of the seeming irrelevancy of the information to a new job (other than giving new companies a leg up in not paying you what you’re worth). As for the job candidates who tried to skirt around the question – by leaving the application field blank, or turning the tables to ask the company what their salary range is—they often risked an interview fumble or potentially being cut out of the process entirely.
A recent new law in California has banned prospective employers by asking, in writing, in person or through an agent, about your current or previous salary history. According to AB-168, which states “This bill would prohibit an employer from relying on the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer an applicant employment or what salary to offer an applicant. The bill also would prohibit an employer from seeking salary history information about an applicant for employment and would require an employer, upon reasonable request, to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant for employment.”
Amazon takes it company-wide
Several tech companies have taken the leap to ban salary questions from the job interview process, regardless of the job’s location, including Facebook and Google. The newest to join the club: Amazon. This goes for any job at the company, including the positions that will be based out of its newest headquarter location, city to be decided.
This is a big deal since a half a million people around the world count on Amazon as their employer. The company is also estimating 100,000 additional jobs to rollout in the U.S.
Here’s what this means for the Amazon hiring process:

  • Hiring managers can no longer ask job candidates about their current or prior pay, including base salary, bonus compensation, equity or even benefits.
  • A candidate’s current compensation can no longer justify a job offer.
  • Candidates may still be asked about salary expectations.
  • Amazon will not use third-party systems (LinkedIn, for example) to estimate a prospective candidate’s salary.

What this means for women
No doubt, many prospective job candidates are happy about this news and the AB-168 law, but for women in particular, these new policies may give them a leg up in pay equity. When it comes to job negotiation, women often fall behind right out the gate. In other words, they start off their careers being paid less than male counterparts, and then this trend follows them for their entire career. When women are trying to get ahead and negotiate for what a position is worth—they often get pushed back when the attention turns to their current (underpaid) salary. And so, policies like Amazon’s are an attempt to squash a cycle of unequal pay.