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A TikToker was so fed up at the lack of pay transparency that she’s now just asking strangers on the street—and they’re telling her

August 4, 2022, 11:50 AM UTC
Man holding a stack of coins and big magnifying glass in hand
One TikToker is attempting to break down the taboos around salary transparency.
Getty Images

A TikToker frustrated with the lack of pay transparency in the U.S. has gained millions of viewers after launching a series in which she asks people she’s only just met what their salary is. 

Hannah Williams, 25, is making waves online with her short-form video series, Salary Transparent Street, seeking to shatter the societal tendency to keep your pay a secret.

In each video, the data analyst approaches a stranger on the streets of various cities in the U.S. and directly asks them what they earn.

Surprisingly, many are willing to answer. 

@salarytransparentstreet

Arlington, VA📍The COL in Arlington, VA is 46% higher than the national average. The median individual income is $72,069, median home price is $925,865, and median rent is $2,828. Virginia’s minimum wage is $11/hr, set to increase to $12/hr next year. Sources: Payscale, Zerodown. #salarytransparency #salarytransparentstreet #paytransparency #equalpay #closethepaygap #diversityandinclusion

♬ original sound – Salary Transparent Street

The very simple concept has identified and shed new light on problematic areas of pay inequality, leading viewers to praise the TikToker for her efforts.

Williams started out as a telemarketer after she graduated, earning $40,000, and after doing five different jobs in three years she is now a senior data analyst in Washington, D.C., earning $115,000.

But she struggled to find relevant data for what she should have been earning, especially as she found that even her friends were reluctant to talk numbers, Williams told CNBC.

She has earned over 15 million likes across her videos and has over 800K followers. 

“A lot of people don’t know how to price themselves in the market…and that’s why Salary Transparent Street exists—to try to help advocate for employees to do market research to figure out what they should be asking for so employers don’t take advantage of them,” she added.

Is pay transparency getting better?

Greater pay transparency can be a valuable practice for employees seeking to close the pay gap in certain areas such as gender, and some companies are taking their own measures to help out.

Tech companies such as Buffer, GitLab, and Whereby have published what they pay employees online. Buffer even credited salary transparency as the catalyst for reducing the company’s gender pay gap from 15% in 2020 to 5.5% a year later.

On a higher level, New York City, Colorado, and Washington State all have voted in laws that require employers to reveal compensation information in job ads.

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