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Would Salary Transparency help close the Wage Gap?

February 12th, 2019 Victoria Breese

Salary secrecy impacts the gender wage gap in subtle ways. Pay transparency might have a significant benefit: closing the gender wage gap. When salaries are kept secret, pay discrimination becomes a lot easier for employers. Without salary transparency, workers may not know if they are being underpaid. Could pay transparency eradicate the gender wage gap altogether?

Subtle Discrimination

Salary secrecy may particularly affect the gender wage gap, which is subtle in nature. For example, men are seen as more likeable during salary negotiations than women. Employers also might think that a woman will be less devoted to her job once she has children. Certain unconscious biases like these contribute to the wage gap. When salaries are kept secret, it’s easier for structural inequalities like these ones to persist. It’s much harder for women to challenge wage discrimination when they are unaware of how much their male colleagues are making compared to them. When wages are transparent, it’s harder for employers to hide biases against female employees.

The Law on Discussing Your Compensation With Coworkers

In 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that prohibited federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries with one another. Some states have also passed laws that promote salary transparency. For example, in 2015, New York amended its equal pay law to include a section that prevents an employer from prohibiting employees from discussing/disclosing their salaries or the salaries of other employees. One study found that women with higher education levels who live in states legally require more salary transparency have higher earnings and a smaller wage gap between men and women. However, legally prohibiting people from discussing their salaries with each other may not be enough. Talking about your earnings with your coworkers can definitely be a taboo topic of conversation. Having complete wage transparency would allow coworkers to be aware of each other’s earnings without having to endure this kind of uncomfortable conversation.

Is Wage Transparency Enough?

Salary transparency is a starting point for tackling the gender wage gap. However, some experts argue that transparency alone will not eradicate sex-based discrimination in the workplace. In an interview with the NY Times, Dr. Huet-Vaughn, an economist at U.C.L.A., said that: “information alone is not enough. Remedying such discrimination will require institutions — governments, unions, courts, political and advocacy organizations — with a willingness to make use of that information.”

Seek Legal Assistance Today

Wage discrimination on the basis of sex is illegal. If you have experienced wage discrimination in the workplace, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.