Why is asking what a person’s salary is so taboo in the workplace?

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There’s like this weird culture around it where some may even consider it rude or too personal like it’s equivalent to asking someone their social security number or something
I’ve heard a rumor it’s because companies/bosses don’t want people to talk about their pay between employees because they may find discrepancies compared to their coworkers, but I’m not 100% sure that’s actually why since even their employees consider it taboo.

In: Economics

30 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because companies have driven it into the minds of people that it is something to keep private to avoid people comparing salaries and finding out there is a disparity. 

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because it tends to cause hostility between coworkers. Two people doing the same job, and one of them finds out that they are making less than the other, tends to cause animosity between them.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The answer you’ll get on Reddit is it was encouraged by companies to oppress workers to make them not know how much each person is getting paid and overall wages will stay lower.

That’s true but not the whole story. The deeper reason is that we tie our self worth to our income. We’re scared that if we tell someone what our “worth is” that we’ll learn we aren’t as valuable as someone else.

Overall though it’s a silly thing to be scared of because your job or company isn’t there to love you or define your self worth, it’s just a human instinct we’re falling into. Do your best to create a culture in your workplace that is open about salaries so everyone’s wages go up. Remind people that wages don’t define their self worth, wages are purely about the lowest they can get away with.

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is why unions exist. Companies have regained too much control from the worker and they have rules like don’t talk about salary in place to prevent people from negotiating better pay.

Anonymous 0 Comments

And on this note, is it taboo to ask people about their personal finance? Like how much they have saved, what is their monthly mortgage payment, how much do they spend on groceries, how much debt do you have. Where do you draw the line?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Even in an ideal situation, unless the company publishes this data, individuals are nervous to share. “Did I not negotiate well for myself?” is a common fear. But so is imposter syndrome, if you’re nervous you might be overpaid. As others have noted, this paranoia works to the company’s advantage, and to the advantage of the high salaried individuals.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Here’s the thing. All of the answers are going to be some variation on, “Employers like it that way”, or some such, but that’s really a load of horseshit. We can pretend to blame the employer all we like, but if we are being honest with ourselves, we all know in 2024 that it’s illegal to prevent us from talking about it, and we absolutely, totally could be talking about it all we like. Nobody is stopping us, or even discouraging us. In fact, I might even argue that the only push in either direction nowadays is *to* talk about it. The reality is that we don’t want others to know that we make more than them, or vice versa, because how much money we make is so intrinsic to our sense of self worth.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Just to make it clear, since I have not seen it in the thread and some may not know. In the U.S. it is illegal for a company to not allow Employees to discuss their income among each other. It is a Federal law that allows employees to discuss Income.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It causes awkward situations.

Just this past winter I was working alongside an older guy with many years of experience more than myself. However, I have been at this company since day one in a variety of positions, with a hefty raise being given when I ran a crew for a few months.

Out of curiosity my coworker asked how much money I took home on the last check as it was my first “big” check in a new part of the company. I thought for a second, subtracted about 800 dollars off of the total, and I was *still* making more than him. I had hoped 800 would be enough for it to seem like he was making more than me so as to not stir shit up.

He was visibly bothered by this even though he said he didn’t care, and I guarantee that situation might’ve moved up the ladder as he probably demanded more money as he was, again, more experienced than me and at the time my *superior*.

So yeah, that’s a good reason why it’s not a good idea to discuss wages.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Salary isn’t directly related to effort or effectiveness. People tend to get upset when they find out less productive coworkers are paid significantly more than they are.