Let’s talk about salary for a minute. No, really.
Companies have discouraged employees from talking about salary for the longest time. It is commonly known as ‘Pay secrecy.’ In short, Pay Secrecy is a policy workplaces implement that prohibits employees discussing how much they make. It is often brought up in employee handbooks, employee contracts, performance reviews, company meetings, etc.
Did you know that pay secrecy is technically illegal? Yep. According to the National Labor Relations Act (AKA the Wagner Act), employees have the right to talk about wages with their coworkers. This act protects employees discussing wages or working conditions with their colleagues. Obviously discussing your salary with coworkers can cause conflict, but when talking about it to protect yourself and co-workers, there is nothing illegal about it. Your employer can’t fire you for it.
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Almost all HR departments or business owners actively discourage it. Why? Because they’re trying to protect themselves. They don’t want you discussing your salary because they use your silence as leverage. Let’s say Susie started the same day as you and has the same job responsibilities but makes 5% less than you, and she found out about it. Susie would be pissed, but the company doesn’t see a problem with it. When you received the job offer, you decided to negotiate your salary. When Susie received her offer, she decided not to. Your employer can sleep at night because, in their eyes, you don’t get what you don’t ask for.
Susie will never find out though because you both signed the same employee handbook contract when you started stating “do not disclose your salary with your colleagues.” Since this is a regular thing to sign at the onset of every job you’ll ever have, you feel compelled to keep your mouth shut.
So what about the pay gap between men and women?
Pay equity and discrimination doesn’t just happen between persons of the same sex. We know about the pay gaps between men and women. As of 2015, I know I make roughly 21% less than a man does performing the same exact job. The sad thing is all women know this and still don’t say anything. What are the differences in our work performances? I don’t find myself any less valuable than any man at work that hold the same job responsibilities. So why do I let it go? It’s understandable that people get rewarded based on merit and work ethic. I wouldn’t think it was okay to make the same amount as my coworker if I was lazy AF and they busted their ass. If we put in the same amount of time and work, it’s not fair to make a different salary based on gender.
What are your thoughts on pay secrecy? Or on the pay gap between men and women?