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Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

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Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby Dave Walker » Wed Jul 29, 2015 8:40 am

Last week an ex-Google employee shared a story from her previous employer: she created an internal spreadsheet encouraging others to add their salary and position and it became quite the sensation. She was called in to a meeting with very unhappy management. More coverage here: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/07/21/ ... readsheet/

Interesting things that have surfaced in my reading have been: 1) It's illegal for a company to stop someone from reporting their salary, 2) Google's long standing commitment to equal pay and merit-driven bonuses is probably untrue, and 3) would I trust any self-reported salary? I call that the "Glassdoor.com problem."

Do you think something like this would fly in the life sciences industry? Or, how bad of an idea was this?

Defenders of the ex-Googler say that the awareness she drew to females and minorities making less money is commendable, and that we should all report our salaries if we want to achieve fairness. When I worked in academia -- where money was always tight, very much unlike Google -- salaries were a very sore spot, even though it was all public via the NIH reporting guidelines.
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Re: Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:19 am

Interesting topic. Dave. Thanks! Curious to see where others take it . . .

For me, I would love to hear from any hiring managers or others who have comments about the fact that women don't seem to be as comfortable with the job offer negotiating process as men. I haven't seen a great deal of difference in salaries as a result of gender, but I have indeed watched as both men and women negotiate. Women seem to be more easily amenable to taking the offer as laid out, while men seem to fight a bit harder for something extra.

If I am right, this may be more of a cultural thing than a subversion of salaries based on gender. What do you think? Please, knock me hard if you feel I am making sexist comments here as we try to avoid those on this site,

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Re: Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby Rich Lemert » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:11 pm

I don't know about job offers because it's been years since either of us has needed to worry about that, but my wife is a much more hard-core negotiator than I am. She recently bought a new vehicle, and I was somewhat surprised about how harsh a negotiator she was.
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Re: Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby Nate W. » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:03 pm

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Re: Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby Nate W. » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:33 pm

Dave,

Your post raises some excellent topics for discussion. Salary information should never be publicly disseminated. It only creates rancor among the employees and allows data brokers (i.e. employment and credit checking agencies) to misuse this information w/o any concern for privacy or accuracy. Employees should instead focus on doing their job better and seeking better opportunities within the organization; identifying and solving problems.

Maybe I should do a post on why employers do credit checks and how this information is used?

This wasn't about activism. It was more about making extra bonus money.
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Re: Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby Dave Walker » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:19 pm

Nate W. wrote: This wasn't about activism. It was more about making extra bonus money.


These are the two big sides. We don't get to see the spreadsheet created, but I assume it was attempted to be anonymous; though reporting one's gender and ethnicity alongside your job title might not be anonymous enough to keep you safe.

According to the ex-Googler the activism led to bonus money, direct raises asked for by several at the company. I assume they still had to ask, however.

To Dave's point, I also don't want to make sexist remarks, and I've seen his question raised in other discussions of this Google incident. The book "Women Don't Ask" by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever is said to dive into this in more detail -- but has been critcised for relying on anecdotes. Bottom line, I think there's not enough serious research in this field (and there should be more).

Finally,
Nate W. wrote:Maybe I should do a post on why employers do credit checks and how this information is used?


Is this common in our field? I have never been made explicitly aware of this, and it seems risky if you can see it on your own credit report?
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Re: Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby Nate W. » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:19 am

Dave Walker wrote:
Nate W. wrote: This wasn't about activism. It was more about making extra bonus money.


These are the two big sides. We don't get to see the spreadsheet created, but I assume it was attempted to be anonymous; though reporting one's gender and ethnicity alongside your job title might not be anonymous enough to keep you safe.



Dave, going on Tweeter to talk about inequalities in pay, certainly wouldn't qualify as anonymous. I'll stand by my belief this behavior is an example of what not to do with your career. Get a job with another employer if you don't like the pay. Maybe those who are getting paid more actually produced more or added more value to the bottom line.
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Re: Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby PACN » Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:46 am

How do you know what fair pay is if no one discloses their salary? Especially in the case of many scientists, moving from postdocs into industry, if no one tells you, how could you possibly know? How do you know if you are being discriminated against if you don't know what others with similar credentials are making (see: Lily Ledbetter)?
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Re: Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby PG » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:01 pm

As a manager I can say the following

I know that people reporting to me are sharing their salary information with each other and this does sometimes but not often come up in salary discussions.

My goal is that if somehow a salary list with all salaries in the department was circulated by e-mail to everyone I should be able to defend every individual number on that list. I should also be able to do this using arguments and facts that have previously been discussed in feedback discussions, annual performance reviews etc.

Of course there are at any single occasion probably one or a few numbers that are hard to motivate and that may be the consequence of recent hires, changed working tasks or something else but then the goal should be to adress these inconsistencies in coming salary revisions.

Importantly there is nothing to gain for me or the company in paying someone a salary that is lower than it should be compared to others in the company. The actual cost difference in USD/ year is relatively low compared to the potential cost of an unhappy employee especially if it is a high performing employee.
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Re: Knowing the salary of your coworkers?

Postby D.X. » Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:50 am

Reality is, if you're doing your networking, you'll have a good understanding of the market value for your position or targeted position.

As you evolve, certainly you'll get to a point where your trusted co-workers will at some point hint to an amount they are making, in general, peer to peer, its about have within a SD of less than 10%. So what?

In general, if you find outliers, they outliers are either the ones that have been in the company the longest, thus capitalizing on merit base/cost of living expense raises over the years (so the top outliers), or they are new to their position and lower in experience (the bottom outliers). Or telling you a tall tale. But in general, most co-workers within the SD of 10%, so what? big deal. At the end of they day, your coworkers have the same living standard as you (peer to peer).

Additionally as you grow in career, you'll get more attuned into salaries and know what your fair market value is and you'll leverage that accordingly.

At the academic/industry interface, you may be low balled but...if you deem the position as value able to launching your career..So what?! I was low balled relative to industry standard (-15%) for a newbie MSL when I first started - about a 2 years later I was at industry standard in a new company for a well experienced MSL with a Senior in front of that MSL title.

Perform well, keep eyes open for opportunity, and negotiate well when the times comes. And lets' face it, in this day and age, that point comes every 2 to 3 years - the norm these days is to jump around once a level of experience is obtained, successes have been realized, and competitiveness enhanced.

Good luck!

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