Colleagues’ salary in question |

Colleagues’ salary in question

The subjects of discussion between colleagues abound, with only one topic remaining taboo in companies: salaries The fact that nearly 33% of Canadian employees have never discussed salary with their colleagues proves that the there is still a long road to changing mentalities, even if certain forward-thinking behaviours are emerging.

Why would you know your colleagues’ salary?
Don’t you think it abnormal if after several months one topic niggles you: whether Réjéan, who was hired at the same time as you for the same job, is earning more. It’s very important to know, since his pay will become your reference; you will then be well equipped to negotiate a raise with your employer. Be prepared, however, to hear his tirade justifying the difference in salaries (degree, age, experience, level of responsibility…). Perhaps your approach is more… altruistic, out of concern for man-woman pay equity. you would make a nice gift to Rose by asking about her salary. She could find out that she is earning 25% less than you, all else being equal, and march straight into the manager’s office to demand that he applies the provincial pay equity law. (In June 2016, the House of Commons Special Committee on Pay Equity recommended a federal law on pay equity for the public and private sectors – it will likely be released in 2018.)

How do you find out your colleagues’ salary?
Spontaneously, you tell yourself that it’s up to you to investigate if you want to get the information. What could be more logical! But that’s without counting on a new phenomenon which is making salaries available by the employer himself. Yes, you read correctly! As proof, the two founders of a Canadian business have decided to reveal the salaries of all staff. What’s more, in a highly structured  way – by seniority, function, city… What is the purpose? No, the question is rather, what is the rationale? The company has a culture of transparency – salary is only one example among many others for Buffer. Employees appreciate it and no one loses time or energy finding out how much their colleague earns. This trend may have come from Norway, a country in which all salaries are disclosed and the knowledge of your neighbour’s wage is at your fingertips. As a result, the land of fjords has less pay inequity and the smallest gap between the highest and lowest wages.

For those of you who may not have the opportunity to work in these havens of transparency, you could always get informed by browsing specialized websites (, and, by interviewing your network, and especially attempting a discussion with your colleague. So take it on face to face, in a friendly place and relaxed atmosphere. You could broach the subject by saying that you want to be a bit better informed, because you don’t have any benchmark. To gain trust, begin by stating what you are earning and ask for a range, not the exact pay to the dollar. Since this taboo topic can create some jealousy or unhealthy competition between colleagues, you could always decide to find out when a colleague leaves the company, which will avoid jeopardizing your relationship.

You will now be well-equipped to rise to this challenge. However, if you can’t ask the question or begin to get a response from your colleague, consider as a response the words of Talleyrand: “When I look at me I’m sorry, when I compare myself I console myself.” You will then be sure to always come out a winner in this obsessive quest!

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