How do employees know how much they should be making?
Rachel Sklar, founder of Change the Ratio and TheLi.st, said they should simply ask their colleagues about their salaries. And they shouldn’t be afraid to do so.
In a video recently published on LinkedIn’s Connect Professional Women’s Network, Sklar said that the best career advice she ever received was “know your value, know what you’re worth, know what kind of money you should be making.”
She advised young professionals to speak up and ask their colleagues how much they’re making because “money is the key to autonomy.”
“I wish I would’ve known when starting out how important it is to take care of yourself financially,” Sklar said.
Knowing what colleagues make can also be valuable during salary negotiations. Career sites such as Glassdoor or Payscale will typically provide a pay range, but won’t reveal a number for a specific position at a specific company.
As social media continues to play a bigger role in our lives and workplace, the taboo of sharing how much you make might soon be a fast-disappearing act. Millennials, who are comfortable with documenting their lives online, are the pioneers of transparency in the workplace.
Jen Doll argued in her piece at The Atlantic Wire that “if we all knew each other’s salaries, we would be in better, more informed bargaining positions. If there was wage discrimination of any sort, it would be revealed. And more basically, knowledge is power, right? And so are salaries. Getting paid is a key part of work (this is not just for pleasure, friends). So why are we so afraid to go there in our conversations about working?”
The idea behind keeping salaries secret is that it’s an explosive topic that it can stir up jealousy or distrust issues. But this might not be a bad thing. Why shouldn’t employees look for other jobs if they’re getting paid much less, but doing the same — and sometimes more — work than their colleagues?
Brian Bader, a 20-something former techie with Apple, told Lauren Weber and Rachel Emma Silverman at The Wall Street Journal that he ended up leaving his job after realising — in part due to performance data shared with his team weekly — that he was performing at a much faster rate than many of his colleagues, yet wasn’t earning much more.
“It irked me. If I’m doing double the work, why am I not seeing double the pay?” Bader said.
Some companies are taking note of this move toward transparency.
Dane Atkinson, CEO of SumAll, reveals everyone’s salary at his company and calls hiding the salary cap “one of the easiest evils to do in your life.”
“You can tell an employee that they have a huge amount of value and options but you don’t tell them the total allocation of the company … and it hurts somebody else,” Atkinson told Business Insider. “For the rest of their careers, they have to make a secret of it and they are disgruntled that someone is making more money than them, and have no open way of communicating it.”
Namasté Solar is another company that discloses workers’ salary packages. Blake Jones, co-founder and CEO of the company, told Business Insider that management has to explain to everyone why someone is getting paid more than someone else.
“Usually, salary is an emotional and sticky situation. In the end, people actually waste more time and energy wondering how much Bob or Jill is making and thinking the worst.”
Being well-prepared in a salary negotiation is crucial to young professionals starting out. Unfortunately, not many young people know this at the beginning of their career. So should salary — a pivotal piece of information — continue to be kept a secret? If it is, we should ask why. Is it helping management maintain order throughout the company or used to keep flawed or even discriminatory compensation practices in the dark?
What do you think? Tell us in the comment section or email us at [email protected]
Watch Rachel Sklar’s entire video below:
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