It wasn't always this way.
"People are much more willing to talk about pay than they were even 10 years ago," says Kevin Hallock, director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Hallock, the author of the book Pay: Why People Earn What They Earn and What You Can Do Now to Make More credits the internet, at least in part, with workers' increased willingness to talk about their salaries. Salary comparison sites (cough-PayScale-cough) have made it easier than ever for employees to find out what other people are making, both at their company and in their field at large.
People who want more specific information about their coworkers' salaries can, generally, just ask. Although many employers try to discourage employees from discussing compensation, most of these communications are covered under the National Labor Relations Act, which protects the right of workers to bargain collectively for better pay.
The only downside? If you ask, you better be prepared to hear the answer. There's always the chance that you'll bring an inequity to your manager's attention, only to hear that the company is divvying up compensation according to how much they value your contribution. (Ouch.) Still, for many workers, especially in the younger generation, the potential payoffs are worth the risk.
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