Maryland recently became the latest state to offer legal protections to employees who ask co-workers how much money they make. The law is part of the overall movement that promotes using pay transparency as a way to help close the gender pay gap.
Yet, according to the Washington Post, while those favoring such transparency are increasing, a Point Taken-Marist Poll offers a roadblock on the highway to open pay data: Americans don't necessarily favor it. The survey found that more than seven in 10 of the U.S. workers polled do not think private companies should be required to publish employee salaries, either publicly or internally, and two-thirds said they don't want to disclose their personal income, the Post reports.
However, the Post notes that the Point Taken-Marist poll offered a very small sample (538 adults nationwide), and some of the questions may have confused poll-takers. The basic data found that fewer than one-third of respondents would not mind with sharing their salaries, with 33% of men, 28% of women, 28% of white respondents and 34% of non-white respondents feeling that way.
Gender-wise, men are more likely (79% vs. 67%) than women to keep pay numbers private. One reason given, by 63% of white respondents, was that divulging pay data would "create friction" within the workplace (though some surveys show that not to be the case). However, fewer (51%) of non-white respondents shared that view.
Denise DiIanni, senior executive in charge of content development at WGBH National Programming, which commissioned the survey, told the Post that since salary transparency is mentioned as a way to drive salary equity, she expected at worst a 50-50 split. "I was surprised we were still as private about salaries," she told the Post.
Charly Carter, executive director of Maryland Working Families, told the Post that favoring transparency is a "crucial step toward equality." But while transparency alone is not enough, it is an important part of gathering the right data to ensure the right steps are taken.
“The discomfort around transparency might come from people who have an advantage wanting to keep that advantage,” Carter told the Post. “But we all do better when we all do better.”