Pay Transparency Is on Employees' Minds — So, Does This Mean Discussing Pay Is on the Table?

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k

Pay transparency has taken center stage in the career world as of late. Some states and areas have even made laws about posting salary ranges in job descriptions. And closely linked with the ideas is that of discussing salaries with coworkers.

Should this be encouraged? Does it benefit employees? What are the downsides? We asked our community members what they think about it, and it sparked a lively discussion in our forum.

“There shouldn’t be the fear of it being talked about.”

“It is completely up to you and your co-workers and what people are comfortable talking about,” Kristen Scanlon wrote. “Bosses cannot say to not talk about it. And, if there is transparency in pay and pay scales, then there shouldn’t be the fear of it being talked about.”

“I hate the secrecy.”

“I'm happy to discuss my salary,” agreed Audrey Kirsch. “I hate the secrecy that some employers put on employees not to discuss it. It's just a way to keep everyone from knowing if they are the lucky one getting the good raise or the one who is getting cheated. Lots of co-workers don't want to discuss it and I'm okay with that. I'm into transparency so for me it's an okay topic.”

“I don’t even understand why salary is a private thing.”

Add Melissa Verdoni to the professionals who think discussing salaries should absolutely be on the table.

“Amazing how many people are worried about co-workers being happy with their salary, then gender equality, this is why we are STILL here folks in 2022/2023,” she wrote. “Things NEED to change. If a person has higher credentials and more seniority,  that is COMMON knowledge. And bosses should never be scared of saying you want her salary, then do this and that. period. I don’t even understand why salary is even a private thing. That ONLY serves the bosses as it allows them to underpay.”

“The key is that it needs to be someone you trust.”

But Erin Beemer cautioned that people need to be a bit selective about when and with whom they share this information.

“Several years ago I had a salary discussion with a male colleague and while we didn't discuss hard numbers, we did discuss range,” she explained. “I came to understand I was being underpaid, and I did use the information to encourage me to negotiate a raise. I did not use his name. My boss at the time unwisely assumed I'd talked to a different person, thus showing that there were at least two data points proving I needed a raise. The key here is that it needs to be someone you trust, and you need to be prepared to find out one person in the discussion is being paid less.”

“I have found that it is never a good idea.”

But not everyone is so on board with openly sharing salary information.

“I have found that it is never a good idea,” said BeaBoss645203. “People get very funny about money and resentful.”

“There are so many nuances.”

“In an ideal world, it would be perfectly fine to discuss your salary with your coworkers,” another community member wrote. “But I wouldn’t. There are so many nuances tied to what each individual is paid. People can be really weird about money. Some people have issues with anyone who makes more than they do. So if you happen to make more than your coworker and you talk about salary, that coworker might all of a sudden have a problem with you.”

“It can lead to resentment.”

“I'd rather not,” another FGBer agreed. “Now, granted, my colleagues and I all have access to what one another makes (we are in HR), but as the new kid on the block, I really have no desire to know what everyone else is making nor do I really care.”

“You have rights.”

But no matter what, it’s important to know that discussing pay with colleagues is within your rights.

“If your employer is telling you that you cannot discuss pay that is illegal,” one FGBer noted.

What do you think? Is discussing pay a positive thing? Or are there too many downsides? Share your thoughts in the comments, or join the community discussion!

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is an editor and writer based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab-mix Hercules. She primarily focuses on education, technology and career development. She has worked with Penguin Random House, Fairygodboss, CollegeVine, BairesDev and many other publications and organizations. Her humor writing has appeared in the Belladonna, Weekly Humorist, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, and Points in Case. She also writes fiction and essays, which have appeared in publications including The Memoirist and The Avalon Literary Review. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What do you think? Would you discuss pay with your coworkers? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!