September 19, 2019

Yes, You Should Share Your Salary with Co-Workers

“When was the last time you talked with colleagues about how much money you earn?

If you’re like most people, your answer is “never.” As a society, we’re incredibly weird about discussing how much we earn. It feels gauche or intrusive to ask other people what they make, and a lot of us feel uncomfortable sharing our own numbers.

Given that, it’s no coincidence that so many people find it difficult to figure out a fair market rate for their work, which leads to anxiety in salary negotiations and leaves people lowballing themselves. Without any real data to rely on, they’re afraid of shooting too high. It also allows people to go on being underpaid for years, often without realizing it, and perpetuates wage gaps by race and gender. If we talked more freely with each other about our salaries, workers wouldn’t be at such a disadvantage when negotiating with employers.

And people desperately want more information about the going rate for their work. This person who wrote to me is pretty typical:

I’ve found salary websites to be really inaccurate. There’s such a wide range of responsibility that can come with any given title, and just too much variation. It’s so frustrating not having any reliable sources of information about salary. For something so important, you’d think we’d have a better system. How are we supposed to find out what a fair pay range is for our work?

In fact, when I recently ran a survey on my website asking people to anonymously share their salaries in a Google form (along with their job titles, industry, and geographic area), 1,000 people responded within the first half-hour and 27,000 people responded in just a few days—with answers flooding in so quickly that at times the spreadsheet kept freezing. Clearly there’s a hunger to exchange salary information.”

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