Why You Probably Shouldn’t Keep Your Salary a Secret

Keeping quiet could do more harm than good.

Cropped hands of businessman opening envelope with paycheckAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Religion, politics, and sex top the list of things to avoid talking about at work. Some people like adding salary to that list, too. In fact, a recent survey from Harvard Business School and UCLA found that 80 percent of people would pay money to keep their earnings a secret from their coworkers. Even after offering those in the survey $125 to reveal their earnings to five peers, more than half refused.

Although it might not be a comfortable conversation, not discussing salary is a faux pas doing more harm than good. Transparency could actually boost workers’ wages. A survey from PayScale.com found that both men and women who kept their salary to themselves were offered less cash than those who did provide that information.

The Harvard Business School and UCLA researchers argue that people are afraid to ask coworkers about salaries because they don’t want to disclose their own salaries in that situation. According to the survey, 69 percent of respondents find it inappropriate to ask a coworker about pay. The research shows, however, that discussing other work-related topics isn’t off limits—the survey found only 6 percent of people think it’s inappropriate to ask about seniority. Next, check out the 21 ways you are wasting money without knowing it.

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Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.