Picture this: Emily has been working at an organization for over 10 years. She’s well educated, a hard worker and has gone above and beyond for the organization. Throughout her career, Emily has received a raise or two and has been promoted to a position she loves.
In comes a new hire, Alexis, who Emily strikes up a friendship with. A couple months go by, and Emily talks to Alexis about her experiences at the organization. During this conversation, Emily learns her new friend Alexis was hired for the salary Emily has worked years to reach. Now, Emily knows she has not been receiving the appropriate compensation for her work.
Using this information, Emily can go to her board or supervisor knowing she should be earning so much more than what she is currently receiving.
It’s also why we want to talk about pay transparency.
Situations like the hypothetical above are why it is so important to talk with your coworkers and friends about how much you get paid.
In fact, it is so important that in 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order “prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation.” According to The White House’s Office of The Press Secretary, the executive order “does provide a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and are able to seek appropriate remedies.”
If sharing what you make is so beneficial, why isn’t it a common practice?
“All of these forces – the social taboo, the intimidation factor, embarrassment – conspire to keep us from talking about money and improving our circumstances,” Kristin Wong wrote for The New York Times.
This lack of knowledge about common pay structures is one way that can lead to being compensated less than you’re worth. Yet even if pay transparency was commonplace, many would be uncomfortable sharing this information, as self-worth is commonly tied to net worth.
“Even the most confident among us can melt into awkward, self-conscious messes when we have to negotiate our salaries, and asking a coworker about pay seems akin to asking about their sex life,” writes Jonathan Timm, a writer and policy researcher for The Atlantic.
Knowing your worth means more than just self confidence; it means the difference between accepting defeat and working hard for what you want. Open up, talk about your pay, and share feedback when necessary.
Who knows? Maybe your next conversation could be with someone like Emily.