This article is best enjoyed while listening to:
"Don't fuck with my money" – Penguin Prison
Despite what many people think, there is no law saying you need to keep your salary a secret from your coworkers (at least not in the US). It is okay to share with others.
There are lots of reasons why someone might not want to share their salary, especially if they have to deal with bias because of their gender, sexuality, race, etc. But another one of the major reasons we keep it a secret is because companies want us to, and they’ve been telling us to for a very long time.
Many companies want us to keep our salaries a secret from one another is because they know that if we knew what all of our peers’ salaries are, a lot more people would be asking for raises.
Let me give you an example.
At a previous job, I had a coworker who, despite having the same title, had more experience, had been at the company longer, was responsible for more things, and had a way bigger overall impact on the company than me. But we later found out that they were making something like $20k less than me.
Later on, they were promoted to be my manager and despite getting a raise from that, they found out that they were still making less money than me. So a week after being promoted, they asked for another raise and got put at the level they were supposed to be at.
Before they knew my salary, they were happy with their salary. If they had not found out what I was making, they probably would have continued to be happy. If I had just told them my salary right away, they could have gotten a raise almost a year earlier. They could have made $20-40k more that year if we had just not kept our salaries a secret from one another.
But talking about salaries is so uncomfortable. Especially if for people who have to deal with bias. It's opening yourself up to judgement from others for making more or less than them.
However, talking about our salaries doesn't have to be this way, and it can be beneficial. You don't have to post it publicly, but talking to people you trust can lead to conversations which will help you move up. Knowing what you're worth and where you are relative to others is the first step to asking for a raise.
Go grab a coffee or beer with someone who you are comfortable with at your company and talk about your salaries. And if you are underpaid, start thinking/talking about how you could approach asking for a raise. It could be the most profitable drink you’ve ever had.