When formal systems do not equitably support employees, subsets of workers will often find informal ways to regain their power.
One aspect of work that has a long history of avoiding transparency is employee pay. There is a severe lack of information around what employees should be paid for their work, what is acceptable in a negotiation and what is truly required to adequately perform a job. Research tells us that the ambiguity around pay disproportionately impacts women who are less likely to negotiate their salaries and more likely to face negative backlash when they do.
One gender specialist who participated in our human-centered design workshops shared an example of an informal way that they instigated change towards pay transparency early on in their career:
I was lucky in that I had a boss and mentor who made it clear to me that I was not being paid what I was worth. He helped me to negotiate my contract and significantly raise my annual salary. But I knew that there were other women in my organization who did not have this same opportunity. I felt like it was my duty to pay it forward so I shared my job description and pay with our gender network and offered to help anyone who wanted it.
The participant additionally shared that this had caused a domino effect in the organization, with many individuals becoming more open about their salaries and assisting others who were going through a promotion process in negotiating their salaries as well.
While the story shared here sprang from an informal approach to pay transparency, organizations can expedite this process by being proactive in the process as well.
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