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Why you should be open about your salary

Corie Miller is a writer for BUILT BY GIRLS, which prepares the next generation of female and non-binary leaders to step into their power and break into their careers. WAVE is the backbone of BUILT BY GIRLS: it’s a 1:1 matching program that connects high school and college students with top tech professionals across the country. For more information and to sign up check out

The gender pay gap is still a pervasive, persistent problem in the workplace. 

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, women of color experience the gender pay gap most severely, meaning they earn even less than their white female counterparts who are earning less than their male counterparts.

Yet in most workplaces, the status quo is to avoid discussing compensation with coworkers. Companies understandably want to avoid creating tension between employees, but keeping workers in the dark about salaries means it’s more difficult to know whether you or other employees are being paid fairly. 

It’s also more difficult to hold companies accountable when employees are in the dark about pay practices. Creating a culture of compensation transparency can be a little awkward in the beginning but it is worth it to ensure you’re making what you deserve.

Photo by: on Unsplash
Photo by: on Unsplash

Additional benefits

In addition to giving you a leg up when you’re negotiating a pay raise, there are other benefits to pay transparency. Research shows that workers are more productive when salaries are transparent, and it’s harder to hide structural inequities for women and people of color when everyone’s compensation is out in the open.

In the past several years, some states have actually outlawed pay secrecy, and research shows that the wage gap is reduced in those states — strong signals pointing to the tangible impact that salary transparency can have when it comes to reducing pay inequity.

According to the National Labor Relations Act, it’s actually illegal for employers to prevent private sector employees from discussing compensation among peers and coworkers. Even so, many employees may feel uncomfortable or ill equipped to have discussions around compensation with their coworkers.

If you’re interested in having discussions with coworkers about their pay, it can help to ease into the discussion by highlighting the reasons why pay transparency is so important and impactful. One-on-one discussions are a good idea to help foster a trusting, confidential, and transparent environment.

Depending on what you learn, you might feel like you’d like to negotiate a higher salary. And whether you’ve had a conversation with coworkers about pay or not, it’s always a good idea to be thinking about negotiating a pay raise, especially during performance reviews.

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