What if your co-workers knew how much you make?

Evan Rodd, PayScale

We’ve talked a bit about social transparency – the dawn of a new social media age in which previous ideas of privacy seem to be rapidly changing. While many of us seem more than happy to share just about every aspect of our lives online, one component still remains taboo for many – salary.

One would think that many people would prefer to keep their salary information private, opting for Instagram-ing today’s lunch instead, but Social Media startup Buffer seems to think differently. In a recent interview with HuffPost Live, CEO and founder Joel Gascoigne explained that Buffer’s culture of radical transparency includes publicly broadcasting the salary range for each job within the company – Gascoigne currently takes home $118,000.


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Buffer posts each job’s salary range on an internal Wiki, accompanied by the formula used to calculate said salary: Job type X experience + location, and then the option of equity, or an additional $10k in lieu of equity. In addition to the Wiki, Buffer hosts other company documents in a DropBox that is accessible to all employees. If someone is let go or fired, the reason is also shared with employees, referencing Buffer’s culture deck for the reasons.


While the idea of complete salary transparency may seem unappealing to some job seekers, Buffer seems to have no trouble retaining talent. “One of our highest values is to default to transparency,” Gascoigne told HuffPost Live. “So whether it’s salaries, or sharing our numbers, our revenue, we share everything. And people have been really attracted by that, they like the idea of a company that’s completely transparent. So we’ve found that it’s been a great benefit to hiring.”


Workplace transparency can have a number of benefits, especially when it comes to compensation. Employees feel valued when they know that you intend to compete with the market, or offer a premium for certain positions. Additionally, transparency can increase collaborations across departments, having a positive impact on productivity.


What do you think of Buffer’s approach to compensation? Would you appreciate total transparency at work, or is some information better kept private?


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2 Comments on "What if your co-workers knew how much you make?"

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Joel is nuts. He has taken the concept of “transparency” to dangerous levels. If he believes that this degree of transparency is necessary to ensure a productive and satisfied workforce, then he has issues in his company. While a certain level of “transparency” is important – providing managers with all of the information necessary for them to function at a high level (sales numbers, gross margins,  performance variables, etc…) and explaining pay structures (especially pay-for-performance) for example, the stuff that this company makes available for “all to see” is over-the-top and unnecessary. I’m surprised that one of his more senior level managers… Read more »

They’re publishing the salary ranges for a position, not an individual’s salary. We show that on our job descriptions, which all staff have access to. Its just information.