Pay transparency: A double-edged sword

When it comes to pay transparency, there are right and wrong ways to do it.
Pay transparency: A double-edged sword
Graphic: Jo Minor
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How would you feel if anyone who wanted could look up your salary on a public website? That’s the case for the employees of some companies we spoke to for this episode on pay transparency.

Making salaries totally transparent is one potential way to erase the persistent unfairness around pay gaps, like those around gender and race; some countries are even legislating, mandating some level of pay transparency in an attempt to make it impossible to pay people unfairly.

But can knowing too much about our colleagues’ pay actually be damaging to our ultimate happiness?

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Cassie Werber is a senior reporter with Quartz at Work and the host of Work Reconsidered. One of Cassie’s jobs was helping to spread butter for her dad’s sandwich business. To be transparent, she was not paid at all.

Francesca Donner is an executive editor at Quartz. Her first job was scooping ice cream, which taught her that basic ice cream flavors are the best and that almost everything is better with sprinkles.

Zoe Cullen is an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.

Christian Sutherland-Wong is the CEO of job review site Glassdoor.

Show notes

Google spreadsheet of employees anonymously sharing salaries

Iceland’s wage gap law

This episode uses the following music:
Tangerine by Jason Shaw via 
Waiting Amin by Luke Holizna via
Lofi Vinyl E-Piano Loop 95 BPM.wav by Holizna via

Read the full transcript here.