Transparent Salaries

Published at Nov 13, 2020

What’s your salary? Don’t want to share it? You are not alone. People have a ton of reasons to avoid talking about money. Though, employers are the only ones benefiting from it. That’s why we all need to make it transparent.

All those emotions

First of all, people are afraid to share it. What if it’s too much, and people judge them? What if it’s too few, and people think they are dumb? What if they earn more than someone else? Do others feel bad then? Those thoughts are all very understandable, but probably wouldn’t be that important if everyone would be open about money anyway. We would probably get used to it, and maybe that’s the first step to improve the situation for everyone.

Employers typically don’t make salaries transparent, and that’s good for them. They don’t have to justify why someone earns more than someone else, even if they do the same work. From our experience, sharing makes you accountable. Sharing is like stepping in front of hundreds of people saying “This is how we do it!”. For us and probably everyone else, this is becoming easier when we are proud of how we do things. In other words: It helps to take more perspectives into account, which eventually leads to better decisions.

Pay gap

It’s proven that women still earn less than men, even if they do the same work. A lot of proposed solutions to this problem exist, but you know what would help a lot too? If those pay gaps would be visible for everyone. Suppose we don’t talk about the general, abstract problem. Imagine you would know the person sitting in the same room, doing the same work, but earning less, just because of their gender, would probably change a lot. It’ll make the pay gap tangible for everyone. How could that not lead to more people stepping up to demand change?

Fair pay

There is more to talk about: Should a manager earn more? Should a more experienced colleague earn more? Should someone higher educated make more? Should an employee, who’s long with the company, earn more? Your answer is probably yes to all those questions, but how much more is fair? It’s hard to answer it but sharing who earns what could be the starting point of a constructive discussion here.

Legal concerns

I don’t know about other countries, but it’s legal to talk about your salary with other people in your team in Germany.

There is not even a way to forbid it, no matter what your contract says.

By the way, a law in Germany empowers people to ask their employer about the salary of others. Okay, it’s only for companies with more than 200 employees, there must be at least six people working in the same position, identifying with the same gender (which has to be different from the one you identify with), and the employer only has to share the median of those six (or more) people, though. Smirking face.

Anyway, share your salary with whom you like. You’re free to do it.

Killing negotiations

Let’s face it. People who are good negotiators earn more. However, we don’t see any reason why it should be that way. People have multiple skills, and there is no reason, that this specific skill should be the most significant factor for a salary. Except your job is to negotiate, then it’s probably fair.

We’re a small team here, with a lot of friendships across the group. No matter who would be the person you have to ask for a raise, chances are it’s also your friend. That’s an uncomfortable situation we don’t want to take anymore.

That’s why we’re on a mission to kill salary negotiations here.

What we pay

As a first step, we added salary ranges to our job descriptions (for example, for the frontend engineer we’re looking for). There is still a range, but that range isn’t about negotiation skills. It’s about the level of experience you gained already, and we’ll judge that based on comparing your experience with existing team members, together with team members.

That’s just a tiny change to make working with us even easier, better, and more inclusive. Share what you think about that on Twitter!