Why most people aren't ready to answer 'What do you make?'

Women are more averse to disclosing their pay, survey finds

Although compensation has become more transparent, especially as part of the conversation over the gender wage gap, a new survey finds that many people still are not comfortable talking about their salaries.

The survey polled 1,000 full-time U.S. workers early last month as part of LinkedIn's New Norms @ Work survey and was conducted exclusively for the Washington Post's "On Leadership" blog.  

The personality traits linked with higher salaries

The study found that nearly 73% of full-time workers are not comfortable discussing their pay with colleagues other than their manager or associates in the Human Resources department. Meanwhile, 14% said that they would discuss their salaries only with colleagues they are close to, and 13% said they would be "completely comfortable" disclosing such data more broadly.

In addition, the survey found that, despite the potential leverage it could offer in negotiations, women were more hesitant to share their salaries with colleagues. Specifically, 74.5% of women said they were uncomfortable talking about pay with colleagues, while 70% of men said the same.

Millennials ages 25 to 34 were most open to the idea of talking about their salaries, with 34% saying they were completely comfortable with the idea or that they would share that information with close colleagues. Twenty-seven percent of all ages surveyed were open to the idea. According to the Post's Jenna McGregor, other studies have also found that millennials are more comfortable sharing salary details.

McGregor writes, "Whatever the reason behind our collective hesitance, any big shift toward a more transparent discussion of pay likely isn't going to happen until this entrenched final taboo gets lifted" (McGregor, "On Leadership," Washington Post, 5/4).

The takeaway: The idea of discussing salaries in the workplace remains very taboo, especially for women, a LinkedIn survey finds.

See our resources on holding difficult conversations:

Next in the Daily Briefing

Congress passes budget making it easier to repeal parts of the ACA

Read now