Talking salary is often seen as taboo, and many companies will even try to include clauses in your contract prohibiting you from doing so. However, this is completely self-serving for your boss, and isn’t actually legal.
So if you want to talk to your co-workers about your salary – and I’m about to jump into six reasons why I think you should – that is absolutely your right to do so.
While some companies are completely transparent about how much their employees make, going as far as including salary calculators for if you were to work there, not every company is comfortable with being so open.
Getting out in the open about your income can be a touchy subject, but let’s dive into a few reasons why it can be so beneficial to you and to those you work with.
6 Reasons to Talk About Your Salary
1. Make sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth.
Although we’d love to think our bosses always value us and will pay us what we’re worth to the company, in the end, this means less money in their pockets.
When you share your salary with your co-workers and vice versa, you’re able to see if there is a discrepancy in pay for the same or similar jobs.
Of course, there may be other factors at play, like experience, seniority, or length with the company, but this is a good way to see if anyone appears to be getting the short end of the stick.
2. Feel more confident asking for a raise.
At my old company – and many companies in general – each employee would have an annual review to go over their performance over the last year.
I had spoken with a co-worker who was in talks for a promotion while preparing for my review and she told me how much she would likely be making in her new role. This helped give me a better understanding of how various roles are paid, and made me even more confident when asking for a raise during my review.
Due to that conversation, I confidently – and successfully – negotiated a $6k raise for myself just a few months after I’d gotten a $4k raise for my own promotion.
Talking casually with your co-workers about salary can help you to feel much more confident in negotiating salary increases.
Salary negotiation is intimidating and nerve-wracking, but if you have a greater understanding of how your company compensates various roles, you can feel much better going into your negotiation head on.
3. Help your co-workers get paid what they’re worth.
In a similar vein, letting your co-workers know how much you’re getting paid, how much you negotiated in a salary or raise, or how much of a raise or bonus you were given during a performance review can help them to get paid more as well.
Not everyone is good at negotiating salary, but that doesn’t mean their work deserves less pay. Helping your co-workers to understand what others in their position are making can make them feel more empowered to negotiate a pay increase for themselves.
4. Advocate for higher pay as a group.
If you’ve done some research in what others in your position are making in other companies in your area, and you’re unsatisfied with your compensation in comparison, talk to your co-workers to see if they’re in the same boat.
If everyone in your company or your department feels like they’re being compensated unfairly for the type of job you’re doing, advocating for higher pay as a group can be a great way to see everyone in a similar position get a pay increase.
By coming together with research and salary information from surveys and career websites, you’ll have a much more compelling argument for a raise.
5. Fight income inequality.
When you and your co-workers are open about salary, you’re able to locate salary discrimination if it exists in your organization, and help to empower those people to ask for a raise.
You can even advocate for them with some of your superiors to help ensure this type of discrimination gets put to rest within your company.
Learning this kind of information can also help you to determine if you’re in a company that you’re comfortable continuing to represent, based on how rampant and obvious the income inequality is.
6. Help others feel more empowered to find a better job.
Last, but certainly not least, you should also consider talking about your salary with people outside your organization.
Sharing information about how much you make with others in your industry can help them to feel more empowered to find higher paying jobs and know a reasonable salary to request or negotiate for when signing on with said company.
You should never shame others for making less than you or talk about your salary as if you’re better than anyone else, but being open about your income can help to open a lot of doors for yourself and others.
How to Talk About Your Salary
Now for the hard part. How do you approach such a taboo subject? Many people are comfortable sharing how much they make, but others are much less willing to do so.
The best way to broach the topic of salary, is to first let the person/people you’re speaking to know why you’re interested in discussing this information.
If you openly disclose that you’re looking to negotiate a raise or you have an upcoming review and you’re hoping to learn more about what salary ranges people have within the company, it might make your co-workers more willing to be open with you.
Don’t push the subject. Some people will have absolutely no problem divulging their salaries, while others don’t think it’s anyone else’s business. You don’t want to offend or upset someone by continuously bringing up a topic they’re uncomfortable with.
However, if someone is willing to talk salary with you, start by first disclosing how much you make in order to make them feel more at ease. If you’re okay with sharing this information, it makes for a much more comfortable and open environment where others will feel safe sharing as well.
Talking salary tends to help more people than it hurts. As long as no one is bragging or shoving a higher salary in anyone’s face, it can help others – and yourself – feel more empowered to advocate for higher pay. And we’re all about supporting co-workers and friends in their endeavor to make more money and live a better life, right?