We don’t like to talk about how much money we earn (this is the case in the West, at least; when I was living in Taiwan, I believe my neighbours on both sides knew my age, weight and salary).
We hide our salary from our friends, peers, colleagues and in some cases even partners.
Now, there are reasons aplenty to keep things private and there is always a requirement for some degree of privacy when it comes to some matters, but there are also many reasons to push the discussion out of the meeting room and into the open.
I’m a big proponent of openness when it comes to financial matters, but let’s first look at those who oppose the idea, as there are valid concerns:
- A lot of employees might ask for a raise at the same time, something small companies can’t necessarily afford.
- Louder, extroverted employees might complain more frequently and loudly (and as the adage goes: the squeaky wheel gets the grease)
- Others might mimic this undesirable behaviour if they see a successful technique.
- It could lead to a lot of bitterness, politics and resentment when people constantly compare themselves to their colleagues.
I have a few points to counter with. Starting with:
Pay secrecy is bad for women
In the US, women earn about 77 cents for every dollar men make. Sure, there could be various factors other than discrimination involved –like more women working in lower paying industries, pressures of motherhood– but a big part is that women don’t tend to be as active (or aggressive) in asking for a pay raise (other than when it is for someone else).
If women could, down to the dollar, see how much their male counterparts are earning, it could help adjust the imbalance and give more opportunity to negotiate.
Wait, that’s reason enough
Fair pay for half the workforce is a good thing.
Mic drop, exit stage.
There are many good articles on the topic if that reason isn’t good enough for you: