Seeking advice on how to react when a colleague asks how much you make. I don’t want to disclose what I make given the person asking definitely makes less and it will cause drama

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How do you know their salary? Are they the same level as you? Do you think it’s fair they are paid less? Can you advocate for them if it’s unfair? I think salaries should be more transparent.

likeupliftinghelpful

It's not against any rules. It's also totally up to you.

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Any sense of potential drama, embarrassment, stigma is a result of employers creating cultures of fear around discussion of salaries because the less transparent that information is, the more money they make. The more we destigmatize and normalize the sharing of salaries, the more money we make. Really think about why you're attributing drama to this scenario and where those emotions are actually coming from.

likesmart

Why do we want to keep secrets from our coworkers when it could help then understand their worth. A coworker making more money doesn't have an affect on your salary. So why are we helping the company by keeping these things secret. Is your alliance with the boss/management or is it with your fellow workers?

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I think you can politely say that you do not share this information with anyone. (It’s so inappropriate to ask!)

likesmart

Not sharing only benefits the employer. They will always use a myriad of factors to justify the pay gap for equal work. If you respect this colleague and their work, it’s worth telling them. If you were in their position, wouldn’t you want as much information as possible to vouch for yourself? The drama is that we are underpaid.

likeuplifting

I’m also for all for transparency. When you find out another colleague who is your equal is making 20-30k more than you, it stings. If we were all paid the same there’d be no drama.

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It does... I found out a recently promoted co worker to my same level is making $15k more. I just left and made 75% more.

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You can say "I don't discuss my compensation."
In regards to your concern about starting drama, I know of someone who shares their salary with coworkers to make sure they're compensated fairly and help them negotiate following review season. It has not created any drama only more satisfied colleagues.

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It’s also very possible that it’s against the rules of your company to share salaries and you could get fired. Just politely say I don’t discuss that.

Unless you have transparent salaries I wouldn't share. Your company likely doesn't want you to and all else aside, I'd follow it like I follow any other policy. This is also a perfectly valid response to your coworker. If they don't get it, that's on them, not you.

There's a lot that goes into salaries, and your 'worth' is just one factor. There's also competing offers, negotiation, budget, politics, immediate need, etc.

People will try to pay you as little as possible, and you should be trying to get paid as much as possible. That's the game.

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