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Should You Tell Your Friends and Family How Much You Make?

Topics: Work Culture

Discussing money might be the only real conversational taboo left in America. We’ve recognized, over time, that sharing our ideas and even our fears with trusted friends and family only builds our understanding and makes our lives better. These days, it’s okay to talk about the troubles we’re having with our children or even our marriages. We can talk about race, religion, identity, etc., outside of work. But, do we talk with each other about our salaries? Oh goodness, absolutely not. That’s way too personal, and it’s a conversation fraught with danger. But, what if this is a mistake? There may be some real upsides to loosening up our conversations about money.

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Let’s take a closer look at this issue to determine if we should be discussing our earnings with friends and family members. There are a number of things to keep in mind that can help you decide what’s best for you. 

Do You Know What You're Worth?

1. The salary transparency debate is really heating up right now.

We’re really just beginning to understand the tremendous value of pay transparency for businesses. Employers need to open up about how compensation is determined in order for employees to feel confident that they’re being paid fairly. Salary transparency at work can be a powerful tool that supports job satisfaction and employee retention.

PayScale data shows that the most common reason people leave their job is because of pay; however, 55 percent of respondents who felt that they were being underpaid actually were not. Employers would be wise to consider heightening the transparency of their compensation practices, but this is a choice most of us don’t have much control over.

However, some folks are sharing information about earnings with co-workers. This is another way to go about improving pay transparency in your workplace. It’s a bold move, so consider carefully before taking action.

2. Salary transparency, between co-workers and between friends and family, is ultimately about helping to right the gender pay gap.

Pay transparency helps workers understand their earnings in relation to the salaries of their peers. This helps to eliminate unfair or biased compensation practices as the discrepancies are brought to light and therefore end up being addressed.

While sharing financial info with non-co-workers won’t have the same immediate effect, it can help you get a better sense of whether you’re being paid fairly. (Although, for unbiased data with the honesty of anonymity, you’re still better off to go straight to PayScale’s Salary Survey and compare apples to apples.)

The gender pay gap exists, at least in part, because it’s allowed to exist. Openly sharing our financial truth with one another, both inside and outside of the office, is one of the best weapons we have against it.

3. There is so much we can learn from talking with the people we love and trust most.

The thing about sharing our salaries with friends and family members is that the conversation often doesn’t just stop there. Maybe it’s because we’ve been figuratively sitting on our hands for so long when it comes to discussions of pay – once we start, we just keep going.

Pretty soon, we’re telling our whole earnings history, sharing stories and tips for negotiating salary, and discussing how our organization handles the transparency issue. We can learn so much from the people who we love and trust the most. If we open up to our most trusted companions about this area of our life, it’s likely to help us make improvements.

4. Speak carefully, and speak for yourself.

The truth is that discussions of money in our culture need to be handled delicately, even with our closest friends and sometimes even with our family members. Maybe it’s because our society puts so much emphasis on money; our identities are more tied to our financial worth than they should be. We worry about the reactions others will have when we tell them what we make. So, if you do decide to talk about your earnings with your peeps, do so thoughtfully and strategically. Be sure to think the decision through.

Once you have shared your earnings, don’t necessarily expect to get the same information in return. Although being open about pay might be good for us, it’s a personal choice. Don’t share what you earn because you want someone to return the favor. Leave that decision to them.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you share your salary with friends and family members? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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An interesting debate, or not? In our company we are paid based upon performance, so in effect, our income is nothing other than another tangible measurement of our direct contribution to the whole. Who doesn’t like to be a contribution? Who doesn’t want to be fairly compensated (without subjectivity) for their contributions? And more importantly, who wouldn’t continue to find ways to better his/herself, strive to do more, take on more leadership in order to contribute MORE if that were… Read more »

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