The Importance of Disclosing Sponsored Content: Part 3 in a Series of Transparency in TA

By Chris Hoyt (he/him) posted 06-04-2024 10:46 AM


Welcome to the third installment in our four-part exploration of promoting transparency in talent acquisition. Here, we'll continue our deep dive into the importance of clarity and openness in the industry. Recruiting industry leaders and experts, as well as hundreds of members of our CareerXroads community, continue to join us for insightful discussions, survey responses, and open conversations. Our final (and fifth) sharing will be presented as a comprehensive research report based on our findings, which will shed light on ideal practices, strategies, and recommendations for fostering transparency in talent acquisition. Alongside @Alex Murphy, CEO at JobSync, I’m leading these discussions, focusing on how critical clarity and openness are to the integrity and effectiveness of our field.

In an industry where credibility and trust are paramount, transparency in sponsored content is under the spotlight. As talent acquisition professionals and industry leaders gather at conferences and engage with analysts and influencers, the clarity of sponsorship disclosures can significantly impact perceptions and decisions.

The Impact of Transparency

Transparency in disclosing sponsored content plays a crucial role in enhancing the credibility and trustworthiness of HR and TA industry events and figures. It’s evident from our discussions with dozens of leaders and hundreds of professionals that open and clear disclosure practices are essential. When speakers and influencers are upfront about their financial relationships, it reinforces trust and allows audiences to make informed decisions.

Mark Stelzner, Founder/Managing Principal of IA, emphasized that simple attestations about relationships can effectively inform the audience, with the placement and citation of these disclosures being critical. @Joanna Clark, Head of Talent Acquisition Strategy and Transformation at Wells Fargo, also noted that speakers should openly disclose paid relationships in their bios to enhance transparency and audience understanding.

Ensuring Appropriate Disclosures

Our panel also explored practical approaches to ensure sponsored content is appropriately disclosed. Several of our panelists recommended or weighed in on the idea that conferences should require speakers to provide a Conflict of Interest statement outlining any financial connections to the products or services they discuss. This practice allows audiences to trust the credibility of the speakers and make well-informed decisions about the information presented.

Personal Insights and Experiences

@Michelle Meehan, VP of Marketing at Plum, pointed out the challenge of maintaining transparency when sponsored content sparks genuine interest, often blurring the line between recommendation and endorsement. In the HR industry, where governing boards are often absent, distinguishing between editorial and sponsored content is crucial. This distinction becomes even more difficult during one-on-one interactions, where motivations can vary. Concrete examples and case studies could provide valuable insights into how transparency can be maintained while navigating direct interactions.

These insights, and those contributed by our other panel members, emphasize the necessity for clear and consistent transparency standards. Michelle proposed that establishing a framework for transparency may require collaboration between buyers and vendors, ideally overseen by a reputable governing body. Organizations like CareerXroads, with their credibility and the expertise within their membership body, could lead such initiatives, fostering consensus and implementing robust policies. By doing so, we can reduce the risk of blurred lines between genuine recommendations and implicit endorsements, ensuring trust and credibility remain central in HR industry conferences, analyst reports, and influencer content.

Benefits of Transparency

Transparent disclosure of sponsored content was unanimously seen as beneficial. Marc Mapes, MBA, Managing Partner at M Squared Advisors LLC, pointed out that clear disclosures could elevate the quality of industry events by promoting a merit-based system for speaker selection. Meredith Nelson, VP Talent Acquisition at Global Payments Inc., added that the presence of paid sponsorships, when disclosed, demonstrates the event organizers' commitment to delivering credible content.

Organizational Success and Transparency

Transparency is essential for organizational success. @Gerry Crispin, co-founder of CareerXroads, highlighted that transparent reports or research are crucial for evaluating the credibility of data and conclusions, especially when sponsored. Alex Murphy additionally called for "100% transparency in disclosures for sponsored research," advocating for specific and broadly adopted industry-wide guidelines for post-publication disclosures.

Key Recommendations

Importance of Disclosure for Credibility:

  • Clear disclosure of sponsorships sends a powerful message that there is nothing to hide. This transparency is fundamental for building credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Conferences should require speakers to provide a Conflict of Interest statement at the beginning of their presentations, enabling audiences to trust the information being presented.

Impact of Transparency on Industry Partnerships:

  • Openly disclosing sponsorships builds trust and credibility in the industry, enhancing the value of information and recommendations.
  • Credibility is built on delivering a balanced and honest message, regardless of sponsorships.

Need for Clear Guidelines on Sponsorship Disclosures:

  • There is a need for full disclosure in research studies and clear definitions for disclosure practices.
  • Transparency in the speaker selection process is necessary, whether it is based on financial contributions or expertise.


Transparency in disclosing sponsored content is crucial for enhancing credibility, trustworthiness, and overall quality in the HR and hiring industry. As Jeanette Leeds, HR Tech Entrepreneur, aptly put it, "When conferences, analysts, or influencers clearly disclose their sponsorships or who’s footing the bill, it sends a powerful message: 'THERE IS NOTHING TO HIDE!' This openness is fundamental for building trust and credibility."

The insights shared by our panel of industry experts and leaders underscores the importance of making transparency the norm, not the exception. By adopting these practices, we can foster a more trustworthy and effective talent acquisition landscape.

What’s next

The research panel, supported by the industry experience and insight of CXR Community member JobSync, will next examine ties between industry event organizers, speakers and attendees. The greater TA community is invited to participate in our weekly polls for this research at

It is worth noting that the full CXR Community - nearly 5,000 leaders, practitioners, and experts in the recruiting industry are also weighing in on these topics during the course of the research panel. It is just one example of the conversations happening regularly in our Community. Follow along, and express your interest in future panels, at

Our Own Disclosure: As co-facilitators of this panel, I, along with Alex Murphy of JobSync, guide discussions, shape questions, construct polls, and offer feedback on responses and the resulting publications. Please note that Alex has sponsored this role and we aim to provide an open and transparent environment for all participants.

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