Are You Talking About Your Salary?

Sep 6, 2018 | Conversation

We have been aware for a long time of discriminatory pay practices, yet confronting the issue is a challenge for many people. Tackling pay gaps that emerge out of bias rather than merit is an imperative for any employer, as I wrote about in my February eNewsletter. Aside from the moral imperative upon the employer, however, employees need to know their own context within the organization. To do so, they need to talk to each other transparently, openly, and with courage.

Employers do not encourage such transparency. Indeed, many actively discourage it. Yet, as Tim Herrera’s article in the New York Times points out, it is unlawful for private sector employers to prohibit employees from discussing wages and compensation.

More inhibiting than the issue of lawfulness, though, is the sense of contravening social norms by having conversations about salary. If we are to level the playing field for pay, and introduce opportunity for equitable compensation, we must understand our situation. Herrera quotes advice from writer Jill Duffy, who suggests that a win-win approach is the best way to get salaries out in the open. “When you come at it from that clear sense of, ‘I’m doing this for both of our benefit, I’m not doing this to shame you,’” she said, “people are generally more willing to share.”

It may seem a little embarrassing, perhaps a little risky, but for our and our colleagues’ benefit, we must embrace these candid conversations.

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