Why Discussing Pay with Your Coworkers Can Lessen the Wage Gap

Why Discussing Pay with Your Coworkers Can Lessen the Wage Gap

The wage gap is a long-persisting issue that rears its ugly head every so often in headlines, and every day in the lives of the men and mostly women who are affected by it.

Just today, for instance, it was announced while Hoda Kotb will replace Matt Lauer as the host of NBC's prized Today show, making it the first all-female lineup in the franchise's history. She will also be making $18 million less than her disgraced predecessor.

E! News anchor Catt Sadler made headlines at the end of the year when she quit her post after discovering she made significantly less than her male counterpart (E! denied the claim, saying in a statement, "E! compensates employees fairly and appropriately based on their roles, regardless of gender.") And Iceland's historic move to officially enforce gender parity laws only highlight how far the U.S. has to go in closing its own persisting gap.

One solution activists offer as a way to circumvent bad laws and increase equality on our own is to share our wages with our coworkers.

A series of tweets by Mary H.K. Choi suggesting as much went viral at the end of the year, prompting a discussion on Twitter about the benefits of wage transparency (especially from those in positions of power) and acknowledgements of the difficult time we have talking about money:

Surprisingly, though it may be uncomfortable, comparing salaries with your coworkers is not actually prohibited, as many people think it is. The National Labor Relations Act from 1935 was put into place so that private-sector employees would have the right to discuss concerns with each other, including their wages, without fear of punishment.

This act primarily put in place to give workers more power in collective bargaining, but is still the law of the land today. When companies put pay secrecy prohibitions in place, those restrictions are often illegal, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

Obama tried to take the idea of pay transparency a step further, signing an executive order in March of 2016 that would explicitly prohibit federal contractors from punishing employees who discuss their salaries with each other.

"Pay secrecy fosters discrimination and we should not tolerate it," Obama said at the time, "not in federal contracting or anywhere else." Research backs Barry up; research shows that pay transparency can help shrink gaps in wages that are due to discrimination.

(Under Obama, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission developed a regulation that would require businesses with 100 people or more to report the salaries of their employees, but this rule was quickly reversed under Trump.)

To sum it up:

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