You know that unspoken rule your company has that employees should never discuss their salary? You don’t have to honor it. Mainly because it contributes to pay discrimination. And the pay gap. Read: If you don’t know what your co-workers make, you may not know you’re making far less than everyone else. And also because the National Labor Relations Act gives you and your coworkers the right to talk to each other about pay.
Wait. Is This a New Law?
Nope. The National Labor Relations Act has been around for over 80 years. And new pay transparency laws have been showing up all over the country. As of May 2022, employers in New York City are required to include salary ranges in all job postings. And California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Washington have passed similar legislation in recent years.
How does discussing my salary with coworkers benefit me?
Knowing the pay ranges for various roles at your company can help you ensure that you're being paid fairly in your current position. And give you a clear understanding of the potential track ahead. Including the pay range for your dream role (hey, corner office) and everything you need to do to get there. Think: What’s required for a raise or promotion. Bonus: Experts agree employees are most satisfied when they know the expectations for advancement.
As for the big picture, increased pay transparency can play a big part in finally making equal pay a real thing in the US. And pay secrecy tends to impact women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ communities the most.
How should I start the conversation?
There are a few ways you can broach the topic of pay with your coworkers.
Call out the elephant in the room.
Acknowledge that the convo might feel uncomfortable. And let your coworkers know you appreciate their participation.
Agree to a no-judgment zone.
Because salary discussions can bring up questions of self-worth. So, be clear that there’s no space for judgment in the convo.
Keep it confidential.
Offer the option to keep the talk amongst the group. Just in case someone isn’t ready to shout their salary from the rooftops. Because courtesy.
What do I do next?
If you find out you’re being underpaid, it’s time to negotiate a higher salary. Not the easiest thing to do. But practicing beforehand helps a lot. Hint: Here’s how to go for the raise.
It’s not ok — or legal — for a company to ask you not to discuss salary. Because it’s hard to negotiate a raise if you don’t know how much you should be making. And talking to your coworkers about salary is one way to help close pay gaps.
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