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Broadsheet readers talk about sharing their salary

January 17, 2020, 11:39 AM UTC
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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Rep. Ayanna Pressley shares a powerful personal story, Planned Parenthood will spend $45 million on 2020 races, and you tell us what you think about sharing your salaries. Have a wonderful weekend. The Broadsheet will be off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day—we’ll see you here on Tuesday. 

– Cold, hard cash convos. Happy Friday! Let’s wrap up the week with some reader feedback. Last week, I asked you whether you’ve shared or asked about salary details with friends or colleagues—and if so, how those conversations went.

Turns out this is indeed a hot topic! Here’s an edited sampling of what we heard from the “pro” camp:

“Last year, a group of my friends and acquaintances (all women) got together over a potluck to talk about salaries, ask each other our ‘dumb’ money questions in a safe space, share our approaches to investing, etc. It was such an incredible experience, we meet once a quarter now! I’ve never felt so secure and smart about my money in my life. I’ve saved more, invested more, and advocated for myself more.” – TZ

“I’m the CFO of an early stage venture capital firm based out of San Francisco, but I live in Seattle… With regard to salary, in the past 12 months I have noticed folks talking about salaries. In the venture world, the firms are small and the finance team even smaller, so there is no internal standard. I have a close group of CFOs at other firms and we have shared our compensation with each other (base, bonus, carry), on an individual level. There are three other colleagues (CFOs) who know my salary… I share my compensation because I am comfortable with what I make and my work arrangement. There is no amount of money that would entice me to take on more stress or hours, so I am fine sharing since I think I have a sweet deal…which is what happiness is all about, your own perception about your specific situation.” – LK

“Inspired by an episode of the HBR Women at Work podcast, I told my mentees with whom I have a trusting relationship that I was on a six-figure salary. (I think there was a bit of shock on the receiving end.)” – JM

However, your responses were far from unanimous. Some readers remain wary of the whole idea:

“Talking about salary outside of immediate family—like my husband and parents—is a foreign concept. I wouldn’t even tell my brother! It’s personal, like asking someone how much they weigh. It’s a number I’m not comfortable sharing… I lead a team of 30 people across the Midwest region and I tell them, ‘Nothing good comes from it, you’ll either be upset or they will, so just keep it to yourself.'” – anonymous

“I’m in my late 30s, and I do not talk salary with friends or colleagues. Why? Well, because it’s never really apples to apples, even among women. One of us might be better at our job, and I’d like to think our compensation reflects that. It could get very awkward, very fast. Plus, I’m just old fashioned. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business except my partner’s. However, with close friends, I’d definitely share advice and info if I trusted them and knew it could never get competitive.” – RR

I also heard from lots of people who are involved in providing resources designed to help women get paid what they’re worth—from DIY industry spreadsheets to consulting and coaching. So, if you’re interested in getting some outside help with this issue, it’s out there. But it’s clear some of you already feel emboldened to share.

Kristen Bellstrom

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe


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