Should Everybody’s Salary Information Be Made Public?

Dear Liz,

I’m a customer service supervisor.

The HR manager at our company, “Tammy,” decided that in the interest of transparency we are going to make every employee’s salary public information. She is going to add each employee’s salary to their listing in our internal database. I’m sure that when that happens, everybody will be glued to the database for days!

I’m not comfortable with Tammy’s idea and neither are my employees. Their pay ranges from $14.62 an hour to $21.14 an hour, based on seniority and performance. They don’t want their coworkers to know their exact pay range. I feel the same way. My employees could probably guess my salary and get pretty close but that’s different than publishing the exact dollars and cents.

I do believe in transparency and fairness of course, but I don’t like the idea of putting everybody’s salary information out there. I feel that it’s private information between the company and each employee.

I know that if I worked for a government agency instead of a privately-held company my salary would be public information, but I didn’t choose to work for a government agency. I chose to work here. What do you think?



Dear Sal,

I agree with you. When your company hires consultants to come in and help them revamp their sales process or establish executive compensation plans or whatever, those consultants get paid an amount that they negotiated with the company. It’s a private deal they struck. It’s nobody else’s business what the consultant is getting paid.

I think it is vital for companies to publicize their pay ranges. I think every job ad should include a pay range and I look forward to the days when the big job boards refuse to accept job ads that don’t include a salary range. However, the exact wage or salary that someone gets paid is their own business. I don’t think a company should unilaterally decide to publish that information publicly.

It’s heavy-handed of Tammy to want to publish employees’ salary information without asking their opinion. That is the opposite of good HR practice! Share your concerns with Tammy, with your manager and with the other leaders in your company. You may not be the only manager who feels the way you do.

It would be a shame to publish your employees’ salaries in the interest of fairness and transparency while at the same time taking away their right to privacy. I advise everyone to keep their salary details to themselves. It’s nobody’s business but yours. Your employer shouldn’t divulge that information without your permission.

Instead of publicizing each employee’s actual pay rate, what about sharing the pay range for each position and the factors that go into an employee’s progression through the range? In my opinion that would be more helpful than throwing everybody’s salary details out there.

Public companies must share the details of their top-paid executives’ compensation. That’s a good thing. Every company can do the same thing. Employees, customers and community members deserve to know what the people at the top of an organization are getting paid. Beyond that, it should be a personal decision whether or not to share your salary information with others.

Best of luck in your efforts,


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