This week, I had a heated argument with my boss about pay transparency.
“Pay is a very private thing,” she insisted, “why is it anyone else’s business what someone earns?”
It would be terrible for staff morale, she told me, to suddenly discover that the person sitting next to you is on a higher salary. This could be for a myriad of reasons, she explained; maybe they’re a better negotiator, maybe they jumped ship, or maybe they are understood to be of more value to the business in a way that is difficult to quantify.
Listen: I argued with my boss about the need for pay transparency on this week’s episode of Mamamia Out Loud. It got very heated. Post continues below.
But I’m not convinced.
Some industries have full pay transparency, including teaching, nursing and politics – and they’re not rioting about pay grades. But there are others, particularly industries where the wage gap between bottom and top is astronomical – that have a policy of secrecy.
And historically, it’s served the big guys very well.
On Monday night it was announced that Lisa Wilkinson, who co-hosted the Today Show for more than 10 years, had left the Nine network due to their failure to meet her salary expectations.
This came after leaks over the weekend published by the Daily Telegraph that Wilkinson, a journalist with over 35 years experience, was being paid half of what her co-host, Karl Stefanovic, was taking home each year.
How was Wilkinson to demand pay parity if she did not first know how much the guy sitting next to her was being paid?
How can women, more generally, ask for the same as what he has – when we fundamentally do not know what he has?
And hasn’t our reluctance to talk transparently about money led to an environment in which women get paid 78 cents to every male dollar?