I have personally found a lot of hesitation throughout my young adult years when discussing salary with friends, family, or others in the industry. It is a topic that can be taboo or discouraged by employers. It makes sense, because your salary, for many, can determine others’ outlooks on you and can create unnecessary competition or judgment in teams or relationships.
I think as the years have gone on, and social media has become increasingly present when discussing work, salary has become easier to talk about and encouraged between peers, and I believe this has a lot to do with young people leading the way in changing the workforce landscape.
As I became more comfortable in my career and grew my network of individuals in the same industry or job functions as myself, the discussion of pay became easier to share. Having discussions with peers in the same industry or job titles has created a safe place and has provided power in the workforce to have advocacy and fairness. With knowledge comes power, which is why salary benchmarking sites are always a great tool to utilize when benchmarking yourself for a pay increase or a new job search. So why is pay transparency such a hot topic? I believe it comes down to a few major factors, which include Gen Z and Millennials, and the use of social media.
Generations are Changing the Status Quo
According to a survey conducted by Bankrate, 42% of Gen Z workers, and 40% of millennial employees have shared their salary information with a coworker or other professional. Pay transparency is a snowballing movement that we will continue to watch grow in the workforce. This is very different from past generations, workplace culture, and pay in the workplace. The younger generations for our newest workforce have really paved headway on salary transparency, discussions, and compensation. And what has really given these young workers a public voice on the topics? Well, social media. And because social media…is well social, and these generations are the ones heavily using these apps, it has become a topic online and offline.
Social Media Has Created Knowledge and Community in the Workplace
Podcasts, Tik Tok, and LinkedIn are three of the top social platforms where you can easily find numerous posts and videos of real people discussing what they make every year, details about their work history, and even what they pay for rent. If we really sit on this, it’s quite a wild concept and a large example of how much “private topics” have dissolved using social media.
I’ve personally seen people who break down their entire monthly budget, what they do, where they shop, and how much they make every paycheck. This type of information can be insightful for many people because we can then easily benchmark and assess ourselves with others that we don’t even know! People are noisy, but not only that, everyone wants to have the reassurance that they are being compensated correctly. Social media has totally shaped the culture of the workforce online. Take McKenna Moore and Hannah Williams, both of which have now built a career by sharing publicly about their careers. These two women shared their salary on Tik Tok, and now they’ve gone viral, are featured on podcasts, and more.
The Pros and Cons of Pay Transparency
At a quick glance, what are the pros and cons of pay transparency? Well in short:
- Closes pay gaps
- Builds trust
- Increases employee retention
- Job performance increases
- Recruiting new talent
- Can cause internal team conflict
- Will not solve pay equity as a whole
- Can expose pay problems and creating rippling effects in the business
Pay transparency is only one part of the changing work climate, and it still doesn’t solve the still many facing issues of equality in the workplace. It does, however, create an open dialogue and non-gate-kept knowledge so job seekers can appropriately negotiate with employers and not undersell themselves or their work.