Despite the question being rhethorical, the answer is everything that's wrong about this proposal: Because the most important attributes are very hard to gauge and almost impossible to prove — Grit, dedication, responsibility, excellence and loyalty.
I've got people with the same job title with almost a magnitude of difference in actual output. Sure, on paper, they're "doing the same thing", but if someone forced me to shoehorn them into categories, that would mostly serve to punish top performes with little credentials and push them somewhere else.
I feel strongly about this, mostly because it happened to myself: After being sold, the first company that employed me introduced a "completely fair and transparent" compensation scheme. After I saw the scheme projected to the wall in the big All-Hands, I realized that without any degree I'd have to wait 10 years for stock options while the PhDs would be in almost immediately.
I called a recruiter the next day and was out a few months after.
Pay transparency is something that has upsides imho, but isn't a clear-cut win. It can turn out to be a net negative. Some further reading: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-downside-of-full-pay-transp...
From that point on I have consistently refused to 'name my amount'. Literally, I would say something like: "A company like yours must have a defined salary scale for the given position, why don't we start from there, and see how it aligns with my expectations?". If they push on, it goes something like: "So, are you saying that salaries at your organization are ad-hoc, and you're looking for the cheapest person who can fill the role?". In which case, I'm really not interested anymore.
There's lots of approaches to this, but I usually go along these lines at the very start of negotiations:
* "I'm well respected and well-paid at my current job. I'd need to see a good salary bump though before I accepted any offer. Moving jobs during a pandemic is, well, risky..."
Honest and straightforward. You give them something to work with, and also what you're expecting.
* "I would like to see $X" where $X is just outside their zone of comfort.
Ideally they should be feeling pain or discomfort because your number is 10% outside their salary window. Usually you can make an educated guess about where $X is, and if you were way outside, you probably didn't want to work for that company anyway.
* "I don't want to waste anyone's time here. What's the range you're looking for?"
A lot of people in HR will give up the range if they're having trouble filling the position -- which many people are these days. And if the top is acceptable, be honest about it. If it's not, be honest about it with the expectation the call will end after that.
If you detect a dodge or resistance (1) to give any detail whatsoever, it's easy just to end the conversation at that point. There's no reason to get angry, frustrated, or to argue your case, you're just turning down a number at that point in time -- or in some cases a lack of a number.
(1) I would expect an investment bank (e.g.) to not give up their total compensation package. But they should still be able to say whether it's acceptable or not.
How, exactly, are you supposed to know their "zone of comfort" if they don't even post a salary range?
But the easy answer is $200k/year is what most people should be aiming to make professionally (even if they don't currently). And so every job switch you make should be a jump in salary. If you're making $120k, there should be nothing wrong with saying you want $160k.
The big issue is just getting yourself psyched up to utter what you want to a recruiter. If you've been paid around $80k for five years with 3% annual raises, it's hard to say to a recruiter, "I want $140k". People tend to internalize that their worth is what that paycheck is, not what the market is willing to pay them. In that sense, it's just a leap of faith you need to make on your part.
However, I only agree with the last of your bullet points, as that's basically what I'm suggesting, just expressed in a more straight-talking manner.
Regarding the other points. The first bullet-point is not something I'd do. I mean, for the right position at the right place I might be willing to go for a salary reduction as well. The second bullet point is not really workable, as another commenter says, you can't know their comfort zone. Moreover, they will note it down that this candidate wants more than we are willing to offer, and therefore might soon start to look for other opportunities. Unless you go for a hyperbole, in which case this is pointless, and may be even worse than just not giving an amount. Depending on delivery.
So, basically, there is nothing to gain if you are the first one to state an amount.
Edited to add:
I think the issue is that if you're trying to "win" the one interview you're in currently, then yeah, odds are you're going to lose typically with this strategy. If you're desperate you're gonna take a lower offer.
But if you see the world as bunch of potential interviews, and start interviewing with a bunch of companies you'll figure out pretty quick what the salary range is gonna be, and you'll know that a startup is gonna pay less on average, and a fortune 500 company has more room to absorb labor costs.
You don't try to win every interview. You're winning the game of interviewing. Because if you try to win one particular interview, you might only be able to get an offer below your market worth, and waste a lot of time doing it just to get that offer. Instead you want to go after the jobs that are going to pay what you're worth.
It's not really that hard to figure out your own market worth.
Can you? I'm currently looking for a mid-senior level software job and don't feel confident at all I know salary ranges at any of these companies, except the huge ones on levels.fyi and Blind.
Yeah, you might work as a high paid prostitute at a shitty company for a while, but when you leave you'll leave richer than being paid half at a friendly mom and pop shop. But generally I've found the higher paying jobs are usually better anyway.
Today in 2021, $175k-ish seems like a fair number for a mid-senior software job. If you're really good, you should consider $200-220k or higher.
This doesn't work if you have several years of experience and senior responsibilities, but are paid significantly less than entry level employees.
It's a catch-22, because getting paid more means being severely demoted.
And this has nothing to do with small companies, there are lots more people working as low paid prostitutes at big, shitty, but obscure companies.
In fact it's your job to get the salary you want, not your company's. The best way to do that is to negotiate up front or leave for a job that will.
Sorry I wasn't clear enough. You shouldn't assume random strangers are in fact passive whiners. My comment was based on my experience demanding an decent salary and then leaving for an even larger raise. I've changed jobs four times since getting my degree.
The problem is your BATNA. You can't get a better deal than what someone thinks yours is. Flat out lying or even misleading someone is bound to come back to bite you in the job market, more than say, buying a car.
I interviewed at a place where I knew someone who worked there and knew exactly the number they were looking to hire at, I named that number in my interview and they still tried to undercut me. I said, no I want $original_number in my response email and they caved in literally 5 minutes. Why?!?!? You found someone willing to take the job at exactly the team's budget. Shouldn't you be popping the champagne that it's painless and everyone's happy?
If you can identify a company's inconsistencies in policies or behavior, you can identify different sets of incentives different parts of the company are under.
A few really big companies might have a different attitude, at least for their major players. I know for a fact that these big companies will offer less than $70k to work in silicon valley, which is a slap in the face to a new grad that was getting better offers in low COL areas.
So where are these mythic companies that don't care about money and give all new hires a fortune without trying to control costs at all?
But maybe you consider that to be a part of company culture too. What I’ve noticed though is even fantastic engineering companies might crappy departments for other things.
You're cutting off your nose to spite your face. I don't see why you can't just ask for what you want. When you found out about your friend why not just ask for the same from your manager?
If you don't ask you don't get, your problem of being paid less is self inflicted by your refusal to tell them the price you're satisfied with.
>and see how it aligns with my expectations
You clearly have a concept of your worth, just ask for it with a few grand more, the worst they can say is no and you can just go elsewhere.
It can take longer if you ask higher but at least the company you end up with you'll know they're happy to pay more.
So let's say you name an amount that would make you happy, and you get it. Someone else names their (higher) amount, and they get it.
You're both happy!
Two months later you find out their amount.
Why does their happiness amount affect your happiness? Would you be happier if they were paid less? Maybe they should be paid the amount that would make you happy instead of what would make them happy? Why? Their circumstances are different, they are different people, whose requirement for happiness is different than yours.
Surely you'd be happy making more, as much as they do, but we already established that you were already happy two months ago.
This doesn't really exist. What people want is the most they can get, and this will make them as happy as is possible in the market. They would be as happy as anyone could possibly be about wages if they were offered an infinite wage.
"The amount that would make you happy" is a pragmatic minimum amount that would tempt you away from your current employment (or from further looking for other employment.) It's a buyer's price, not a seller's price.
> Why does their happiness amount affect your happiness? Would you be happier if they were paid less? Maybe they should be paid the amount that would make you happy instead of what would make them happy? Why? Their circumstances are different, they are different people, whose requirement for happiness is different than yours.
This is the problem with reifying the concept of an "amount that would make you happy." You've fallen into abstraction and spiritual condemnation. It's not illogical or irrational to not be happy with being paid less than you could be paid doing the same job, and it's insulting to treat employees like fools with this backwards logic.
If the employer is happy paying that other employee twice as much as you, why wouldn't they be happy paying you just as much? If they're happy with the deal with the other employee enough to continue it, why wouldn't they be happy with giving you that same deal? Really silly reasoning.
Well I think it does exist. You can be happy with what you have regardless of what others have, can you not? Otherwise you're doomed to unhappiness, unfortunately.
> It's not illogical or irrational to not be happy with being paid less than you could be paid doing the same job
Agreed, it's not illogical or irrational, but it is sub-optimal if one is concerned with being happy with what they have rather than comparing against external entities and adjusting happiness downward unnecessarily.
> treat employees like fools
I don't think it's backward or disrespectful to ask someone what would make them happy and then give it to them.
I think it would be illogical to say "I want to make more than, or just as much as, anybody else doing what I do". Actually, I think maybe it's emotionally childish, rather than illogical. Not that I've never though that way myself. It's just that from a personal growth perspective, I don't think it's a mentality that leads to happiness in the long run.
This is essentially saying that you're not happy unless you're being paid the maximum the company is willing to pay, now and in the future rather than choosing to be happy with an amount that fits your own needs. This means your happiness changes based on the circumstances of an external entity, rather than changing based on your own circumstances, which seems strange.
I am not happy if I am paid significantly less — essentially this means that my employer has found a way to arbitrage my labor, and instead of sharing this information (and the value I create) they've decided to simply pocket the difference.
Even if they were happy with the amount they were making before, that unfairness is likely to make them feel unhappy: not just because they could be making more, but because this says "we value this other person more than we value you, for reasons we're unlikely to ever tell you."
If, instead, this whole scenario started out with full pay transparency, it is vastly less likely that the company would be willing to allow this level of disparity in the first place, thus avoiding any party feeling unhappy.
But your value should not be measured by how much somebody else is getting paid, but by how much another company is willing to pay you.
Who are you to say that? Is the invisible hand prescriptive now? What if I value fair treatment over marginal nominal compensation? What if I don't know how much to ask for when I'm looking for work because I'm so underpaid that my perception of the market is fucked?
When companies say they can't afford to pay you x, they mean they don't want to pay you x.
Yes, sure, perhaps the employee was being cheated, but pay transparency is not going to fix that, that just insures everybody is being cheated evenly.
The cheating happens when the profits of the company are not distributed to the people that run it, but to the people who own it.
Over time, employees show their value or not. The higher value employees should be appropriately compensated for what they deliver, e.g. more market price discovery, but for rarer assets.
The danger of transparency is that you will discover the presumed market value difference, without seeing reasoning behind those differences. Which, honestly, will result in many angry people.
Why is transparency a problem here?
The person doing orders of magnitude more work is probably only getting paid 10% more.
Transparency could possibly make this better for both the workers and the employers, or it could make them worse for both - better for one and worse for the other - better for one and no difference for the other - or no difference for either. There's lots of possibilities.
But It doesn't seem like there's reason to believe transparency is surely bad.
> The person doing orders of magnitude more work is probably only getting paid 10% more.
You've answered your own question. Transparency is undesirable from an employer's perspective because it encourages a closer alignment between compensation and productivity, and the mismatch between these currently serves as a significant profit advantage to the employer.
If I can get 1000% more work from someone, and pay them 10% or 100% more, I am highly incentivized to prevent them from becoming aware of the value of their efforts, because they might realize their (relative) exploitation.
At the same time, the less-productive worker also benefits from this lack of transparency because they get ~90% of the pay for 10% of the work. Disrupting the status quo would not be economically rational for them either.
Thus, only the small fraction of underpaid, overworked people benefit from increased transparency, and it is not surprising to find that the majority would resist its implementation.
I’m not sure I agree with the basic premise that the majority of people are either paid fairly or overpaid.
I suspect the vast majority of people are overworked and underpaid. The lack of real world wage increases, especially when compared to every increasing productivity, strongly suggests that being underpaid is far more likely than being overpaid.
According to your own logic, only a much smaller fraction of business get any significant advantage.
What entitles business owners to all the benefits of highly productive workers?
This is exactly why many of those workers go on to start their own businesses, to redirect those benefits to themselves.
Eventually you’d have to leave or the boss would have to ditch pay transparency.
There is no world where 10X people will agree to a 50-75% pay cut, so the only people that will be left in these transparent shops will be the bottom half of the talent pool.
The most normal "outrage" response I've seen is "Bob makes more than Alice even though Bob is less productive".
Usually with pay secrecy the employer is covering for the fact that Bob had more leverage when negotiating salary and even though Bob is a profitable employee that they want to keep, Alice is a very profitable employee because she's cheap.
If Alice is no longer kept in the dark, she has both additional leverage and an incentive to leave in a fit of pique, neither of which you want for your most profitable employees.
How exactly? I don’t see any obvious path to this.
Imagine you're a business and your employees bake pies.
Imagine the costs are fixed beside the pie. Imagine the pie costs $1 in ingredients.
Imagine the average worker bakes 10 pies per hour, and your marginal profit per pie is $9, and you pay workers $10 per hour.
That is the labor cost and supplies for a pie costs $8.
Each worker, generates $80 in revenue per hour after inputs and wages.
However, you have one worker that bakes 30 pies per hour for $20 per hour. This worker is happy to earn double the average worker. And you, as a business owner, are very happy to make $300-30-20 = $250 per hour in revenue after inputs and wages (3x).
However, If the worker is aware of how much more s/he makes - it is possible to imagine the worker becomes even more productive.
Maybe the worker can bake 45 pies for $30 per hour (3x). You're paying more per hour per pie, but you're making much more profit per hour = $450 - 45 - 30 = $375 (4.5x).
Put another way, it will be very ... very difficult to reward good people with higher pay, without consequences. The onus would be on the business to articulate in legal terms, why X should get more than Y. This would open businesses up to lawsuits.
I suspect that the net effect of this will be that businesses are going to work much harder at vetting people, and more rapidly letting go staff members who are on the wrong side of the bell curve (say 1 or more sigma below peak) in productivity. I'm not sure this is a good thing, for workers, or for businesses.
As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The other reason is that pay transparency is often anchored to specific credentials and characteristics, and it's often the case that credentials can be orthogonal to work performance. You might have a PhD who can't code who demands higher pay than a HS dropout who designed your entire infrastructure, and the HR department (or lawsuits, or etc) would force you to comply.
Such concepts punish high achievers.
The reason the vast majority of jobs don't work this way is because productivity is rarely: A) so easily measured B) so easily mapped to revenue. A 0.1x person whose maintenance work generates real revenue contributes more to the bottom line than a 100x worker in the same position whose project is scrapped for whatever reason.
You could also pay a salary and adjust it based on productivity. In theory, that's something like how raises and bonuses are supposed to work.
If you think your rating doesn't make sense, or your rating does make sense, but your pay is lower than people with much lower ratings - then you have a case to argue.
Of course - this could be just as nepotistic as the current system. But I think transparency is bad for nepotism long-term. Usually the most corrupt governments and organizations are the most opaque.
Developers aren't really that different from bakers.
You could bake 45 pies in 1 hour, and they could all be terrible pies that can't be sold, and you could burn down half the bakery in the process.
In the same way, a developer could ship a bunch of features, but they could all be "half-baked" and a nightmare to maintain.
You could also try to define metrics for what quality and productivity are. But people will just game that. Ratings can also easily be gamed or nepotistic.
You can inspect the pies made by your staff. Terrible pies that can’t be sold either look bad (misshapen, burnt, leaking) or taste bad (too sweet, not sweet enough, salty, over/undercooked). It’s not difficult to figure out.
On the other hand, evaluating a developer’s productivity and quality of work would require a lot of code review which takes time and skill and also may require the developer to be present, wasting their time and lowering productivity. Push the review and eval process far enough and you really risk bringing down that developer to an unacceptably low level of productivity.
> Developers aren’t really that different from bakers.
I suspect very few people would agree with this.
Only with an answer to this question does what you have argued so far apply to knowledge work.
In this way - you can't just simply count how many pies a SWE coded.
But you still get paid to produce "something". Is it even relevant what that is?
Should you get paid less at Google if you work on a new product and you absolutely crush your job vs you work on optimizing ads and aren't very good at your job - but regardless are able to generate a lot more profits?
I don't have a good answer for this.
I'm assuming "productivity" is somehow tied to "profit". No one cares if you work really hard and get nothing done. But if you work really hard and do your job well, but your boss told you to work on something unproductive - what should happen? You and your boss are considered unproductive? Just you? Just your boss? I don't know.
I think the easiest fairest system would be a mix of levels like FAANG has along with ratings (which FAANG also has) along with transparent pay (which almost no one has).
From a business perspective - you're currently paid the least possible amount it costs to employ you or replace you. If you have a valuable and rare skill set, you'll get paid a lot more, even if you aren't particularly good at your job.
I don't see this ever going away.
That’s a categorical difference. Not some minor detail.
It’s also not the only difference. Knowledge workers contributions are necessarily much more interdependent than the contributions of people who make commodities.
But see that if you think of knowledge work as little different from manufacturing commodities, your arguments and conclusions makes sense.
I just think your assumptions about the similarities are not correct.
They don't need to. As long as the system is transparent and everyone agrees to it, what it is doesn't matter.
Performance based on lines of code? Based on peer evaluations? Based on users acquired? Based on meeting arbitrary goals your director sets that year? It doesn't matter as long as the evaluation criteria are predefined and available. Companies don't even need to use the same criteria, you can choose a company whose process you vibe with.
If you use lines of code, you incentivize inefficient boilerplate.
If you use peer evaluations, you incentivize positive social behaviors and favors, but not necessarily productivity or good engineering.
What you measure becomes the goal.
Being predefined and available only amplifies the effect.
If you think about this over a long enough timescale, and believe in something like the efficient market hypothesis, companies will converge on near-optimal structures that pay for the performance that is valued in their niche, and individual will be able to make informed decisions to work with companies that will pay them based on their strengths.
Note that I'm not saying that a company can't ever change its compensation and performance evaluation, so if LoC is a bad metric, over time I'd expect companies to move away from it as they find it to be gamed. But like, I'm not going to stop a company from picking a bad metric, or claim that transparency is bad because companies can make bad decisions. Companies can make equally bad decisions today, and you won't know.
I’d be very surprised if the game like companies you describe can outperform a well led organization.
> What if the better criteria for picking a good place to work is good leadership, and not a rule set?
I think an attribute of good leadership is being able to clearly communicate goals and priorities. If you can clearly communicate those goals and priorities in advance, you can evaluate people based on how well they perform against those goals and priorities.
If I'm forced to "anticipate what leadership needs", without any guidance on how or what leadership values, I'm doing the same job as "leadership", in that I'm defining organizational values, goals, and priorities. That's bad, because it dilutes leadership.
> You are making the assumption that an easily written set of fixed rules will outperform the more fluid and less easily quantified but nonetheless real heuristic of “anticipate what leadership needs”.
> I’d be very surprised if the game like companies you describe can outperform a well led organization.
I don't think I am. I don't think such heuristics are particularly easy to quantify or easy to write down, nor do I think they're particularly fixed. I do however think that most successful organizations do something like what I'm doing. As far as I know, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook all provide more concrete performance expectations than "anticipate leadership needs". It would be hard to describe all of those as not "well led" or underperforming. In fact, most modern companies with more than a few hundred engineers develop some form of leveling system and rubric.
This of course doesn't mean that you have no autonomy. Goals can be vague and high level. "Ship Frobulators by the end of the year" is a goal, and "we value end-user experience over implementation cost" is a value. If you know your company (or perhaps at a large company, your organization) has those goals and values, and you know the method by which they convert achievement of goals and values into compensation, you can better do what they want.
The alternatives are that:
1. Leadership is unable to express their goals and values in a way that clearly communicate what they want from employees. This appears to be what you're getting at with the example of LoC.
2. Leadership is unable to maintain consistent goals and values
3. Leadership doesn't want to reward people based on their stated goals and values
etc. etc. etc.
In the first case, they're incompetent. In the second case, they're unreliable. In the third, they're duplicitous and trying to compensate you based on some secret, second set of values, as opposed to the ones that they're claiming to share. None of those alternative are things that inspire confidence in leadership.
> 1. Leadership is unable to express their goals and values in a way that clearly communicate what they want from employees. This appears to be what you're getting at with the example of LoC.
An alternative you haven’t considered is that leadership is excellent at communicating what they want, but it’s not reducible to a simple set of incentive foals.
Another alternative that you are not considering is that the world is dynamic and excellent leadership involves adapting goals as the world changes, not maintaining consistency for the sake of easy comparison with other organizations.
This is a non-sequitur if we consider 1 & 2.
None of this implies duplicity or secrets.
Perhaps people can judge leaders based on results and culture without needing to see it reduced to a rule set.
Can you give an example?
> Another alternative that you are not considering is that the world is dynamic and excellent leadership involves adapting goals as the world changes, not maintaining consistency for the sake of easy comparison with other organizations.
I did consider this. I don't think maintaining consistency for the sake of easy comparison is a good reason to maintain consistency, but consistency in values is good because it changing values is damaging to an organization. It requires a cultural shift that usually causes deep pain and often requires firing members of leadership (I suggest reading https://apenwarr.ca/log/20190926 for a good post that influences my thoughts here and matches my experience).
If leadership is unable to maintain consistent values, that is a failure of leadership in my eyes. They are unreliable. Values can change, but they should do so slowly and rarely (and with good, and preferably transparent, reason).
If a leader is unable to maintain cohesive goals over a reasonable timescale, that's also an indictment of their abilities to plan within and understand the space they are working in.
Or to put another way, your organization will not develop a cohesive identity and culture without clear goals and values. Now oftentimes, you do have some clear values even if you don't state them, but then the question for leadership becomes "are those really the values you want"? And if you don't know them well enough to be able to state them, I'd suggest that the answer is probably not.
> Perhaps people can judge leaders based on results and culture
I'll reiterate: you cannot judge a leader based on culture if they don't declare what that culture is, or if their values and goals change too often. Values and goals set culture, and if values and goals change, culture changes. If all you know about a leader is that their values and goals change often, you can't judge them and their organization by how it looks today, because you can have high confidence that it will look fundamentally different soon. That's a sign of dysfunction. So I do judge them based on that: I judge them to be bad leaders. You appear to disagree, but I'm not sure how you are judging them if you can't even be sure of what their values will be tomorrow.
I don’t really know why you trust organizations that can write a statement of values down not to change.
Frequently these statements are written by consultants anyway, and organizations that do have good written principles that they live up to, do so because they have leaders of integrity, not the other way around.
I accept that you can’t see any other way to judge leaders than by examining their written statements.
I don't! But I do trust that it will be moderately more difficult (and far more transparent) for them to do so than an organization which chooses not to. If you have your values declared, people can hold you (or the org) accountable to them. If you then change them, you have to announce it, or people will continue to hold you accountable to the old one.
> and organizations that do have good written principles that they live up to, do so because they have leaders of integrity, not the other way around.
I agree! But good leaders also make it easy for their reports to hold them accountable, and it's far more difficult to hold someone accountable to a set of values if those values are unstated. That's why the values need to be stated. Like, please explain to me how you live up to the organizations principles if no one knows what they are! (and if everyone agrees on what they are, why can't you write them down?)
And I should clarify if it wasn't already clear, I'm not talking about values like "integrity" or "respect the user", but things like "bias toward action" and "move fast and break things", that give you insight into how decisions should be made in the org.
> I accept that you can’t see any other way to judge leaders than by examining their written statements.
I judge leaders by examining how their stated values correspond with their actions. Their stated values give me a framework for judging them.
How do are these qualitatively different kinds of value?
>> I accept that you can’t see any other way to judge leaders than by examining their written statements.
> I judge leaders by examining how their stated values correspond with their actions. Their stated values give me a framework for judging them.
An alternative is to simply judge their actions, how they treat people, and the results their organization produces by your own values.
The second set are tradeoffs, they give you a framework for decision making: "integrity" is obviously a thing you want, but everyone wants it, it doesn't really tell you anything about the values that a particular organization has in comparison to another. The second set are implicitly about tradeoffs: when on the fence, prefer doing something to not doing something, or when you're uncertain, make a change and deploy a feature even at the cost of potentially breaking things. This gives you information on how decision should be made and what the organization values (features > reliability, at the margin). When that value changes ("move fast with stable infra") it tells you that while the organization still values velocity over reliability in some places, when dealing with core infrastructure, you should work the other way, preferring stability over feature velocity.
This is explained better in the blog post I linked, I'm mostly restating what it says, but worse.
> An alternative is to simply judge their actions, how they treat people, and the results their organization produces by your own values.
But, and here's an important thing: a leaders' values may be different in different circumstances! The same person, when running a 5 person startup, and a 50,000 person company, will land on different sides of the same tradeoffs! Organizational priorities change. The values I'm describing are how you communicate those organizational priorities.
If you just try to judge a leader or organization based on how they acted in the past, you will be misled if circumstances have changed, unless you can read the leaders mind. That's why stating values is important. Again: they're how you communicate priorities.
How the leader acts and how they treat people don't fundamentally matter when you're trying to figure out if the work you're doing will be considered valuable by the organization. Like yes, you should work for leadership who you enjoy working for on a personal level. But that's totally independent from how good a leader they are. There are very nice people who are incompetent leaders, and there are people I consider assholes and wouldn't want to work for who do a good job of managing their organizations.
It seems like you're talking about personal values (and ethics) which are important yes, but not at all what I was talking about. I'm talking about organizational values as an aspect of leadership. These are in many ways totally distinct from the personal ethics you hold.
And importantly, I think with very few exceptions, trying to glean anything about organizational ethics from stated values is a fool's errand. But they are still important for stating organizational priorities. Don't confuse the two!
Only if you don’t take into account the changed circumstances. And if you’re going to ignore circumstances, clearly no set of written priorities will save you.
How someone actually makes decisions is obviously more discernible from the decisions they have made in practice than from a set of statements they make about how they do it.
> But, and here's an important thing: a leaders' values may be different in different circumstances! The same person, when running a 5 person startup, and a 50,000 person company, will land on different sides of the same tradeoffs! Organizational priorities change.
This is a point I explained to you earlier. I’m glad you now agree with it.
You might be. But I don’t really see how you know that about anyone but yourself.
> Based on peer evaluations?
Based on their interpretation of how you hit metrics? Why not just look at the metrics directly?
I think it's okay if ratings are subjective based on loosely defined job responsibilities. That's how it works at FAANG.
Nothing is going to be fair. But I think it's better than just counting how many bugs you fix or how many lines of code you review or how many users your code acquires (which should be mostly determined by your product and design team's decisions).
There doesn't need to an objective, or even a best subjective, measure of productivity, as long as the company's chosen measure is transparent and preregistered.
It's just that with a transparent evaluation process, you know why that is and can make more informed decisions than having your manager say "no don't worry, you're on track for a promotion next year" every year.
To put it a different way: how do you know that you aren't being compensated based on LoC output today, if you don't have some amount of transparency in evaluation criteria (and, importantly, some amount of transparency in pay, so you can verify what the company says)?
In any case, this piecework example doesn’t seem to be relevant to this forum.
Can you describe an example that would apply to programmers or other knowledge workers? What about people who work in teams?
If one of your developers is consistently able to finish projects substantially faster than other developers - you as a company are supposed to accurately estimate project difficulty and thus pricing (of course this is very hard to do accurately).
Your input costs are just wages, and your revenues are how much you charge for projects.
A fast worker will slow down when measured to game the system - it's one of the reasons why those Amazon workers piss in bottles.
There are a lot of "industrial practices" that most HN commentators will not have come across.
Transparency in pay or transparency in value to the company?
The issue GP had was with disparities in pay and value. If you start being transparent on value, that gets into privacy issues.
Devils advocate- isn't this a bit like arguing peanut butter shouldn't be uniformly priced, but you ought to negotiate the price of every jar based on various attributes of the farm where the peanuts were grown: soil acidity, use of pesticides, as well as farmers grit and dedication? A jar is a jar, and ideally, a job is a job. An employee can either do the job, and be paid what it says on the can, or they cannot do the job and have to be transitioned out.
Sure, jars come in different sizes and brands, but we should stop pretending each job is bespoke when employee organizations function on the basis of them being similar, empirically workers are replaceable.
My biggest problem is information asymmetry: even if I were to accept your argument at face value (that important attributes are hard to gauge); the employee has much less knowledge on how much they ought to be paid for their skill-level, but the employer will have that information up the wazoo (both internally, and through industry surveys and back-channels)
Unlike the peanut butter example, the economic value provided to the business by skilled employees varies not just by orders of magnitude but can even go negative.
If you ate $100k worth of peanut butter each year, and some of the jars were only 10% full (or worse, contained horrible peanut-butter guzzling insects that ate parts of your good jars), you'd definitely start negotiating with the peanut butter industry.
Goods on a shelf, like peanut butter, are called commodities and will obey a commodity pricing model.
Anything else? Won't. They will have different pricing models often better fitting an auction model, of which there are several. For example, rare art. Second-hand or used goods. Employee salaries.
For any skilled employee, there is no such thing as a single fair price for their salary because there's such a right-place-at-the-right-time effect. You can look up Timofey Mozgov, a bad NBA player who lucked into a ridiculous $64 million overpay contract he worked less than 50% of, because he happened to become a free agent during a summer the budgets went up and everybody was getting overpaid.
I think the current (labor) sellers-market that's happening in tech sector gives the illusion that this is not the case, and that we are auctioning high-value, rare skills and not sellers of commodified labor, which has congealed around standardized tech stacks that make sure you're the right type of cog.
In most fields, they are. I'd hazard 99.9% of all workers are interchangeable, albeit with some variance in productivity. If a worker dies today, the vacancy will be up by the next Monday and the position filled within a few weeks.
Speaking of individual productivity, most comments here are overestimating its importance: if you are able to crank out a feature in 2 weeks that your colleagues can manage in 4, how much higher should your salary be? You have double their productivity (sometimes), but if this doesn't move the needle on the release date - it rarely does - how much more valuable are you? The release date is still 2 fiscal quarters away, others will need to integrate your work and make it usable.
As for replacements, for more senior positions its not a 2 week process. You typically have someone more interim step in if there's nobody existing on the team that can step in.
Of course we are interchangeable in jobs, but what about a junior developer and senior one with the exact same job. Should the junior have a senior pay or the senior being stuck at a junior pay until the next carrer change ?
maybe part of the solution is that companies should be transparent from the start. What their envelope is and no more bargaining. Everyone the same amount.
But I'm strongly against any law that makes _my_ actual pay public.
I think they are two separate issues.
Not comparable because while peanut butter brands may have very different characteristics, every jar from a given product line is the same. Brand X and Brand Y do have different prices, but every jar of Brand Y is identical (jar was filled from the same giant vat) and thus the same price.
People though, are all individual. Even more granular, the exact same person can be 10X to negative, depending on job environment.
I don't think it's a good idea to dictate fixed salaries, but it's a great idea to make them transparent. It would be nice seeing how much the best employee earns, so you could use them as a role model. It would also be nice to see if the slacker brother of your boss is earning accordingly to his performance.
This is absolutely true.
However, in practice, while there are certainly workplaces where differences in pay are primarily due to differences in actual productive output and value to the team/company, there are also many, many workplaces where the differences in pay are entirely due to either better negotiation skills (which have absolutely nothing to do with the work in question), or how much the people deciding on the pay like the workers in question....including how much the workers in question toe the party line and are willing to sacrifice and abuse themselves for the sake of the company.
In a case like this, what is responsible is to acknowledge the good-faith cases, and put rules in place (like pay transparency) to help fight against the bad-faith and abusive cases. "We should allow companies the freedom to continue to abuse their employees, because some companies instead use that freedom to reward good employees" is not a particularly compelling argument, at least to me.
That really depends on the magnitude of the two problems. "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater," "The cure is worse than the disease," etc.
However, at least from my perspective, the harm caused by allowing employers to continue to abuse the information asymmetry is significant and real, while the idea that keeping people in the dark makes it somehow more likely that good employers will reward good employees seems to have no rational basis in fact. (It is, I believe, much more likely that good employers will reward good employees regardless of whether they are required to disclose employee compensation.)
Thus, unless you wish to claim an ideological argument of some sort (which I would say should always be superseded by evidence of actual harm to actual people on the other side), the only remaining argument I've personally seen against pay transparency always appears to boil down to "I assume I must be paid better than the people around me, because of my obviously better skills at $JOB and/or negotiation, and I'm afraid that if everyone knew they would be jealous of me."
Dynamic pay doesn't always reward the very best, and certainly not proportionally. It also rewards the person the boss likes, well connected people, and people that are just more skilled at gaming the system.
True - but job posts can be occupied by interchangeable pieces; some are overachievers, but all meet a minimum requirement. "Software Engineer I" in department A can be filled by any suitable candidate, and the budget maxes out at $XXX,000. If you're being paid less than this, the employer should tell you why (commitment,disposition, ambition, networking, etc).
Wage transparency does not lead to fixed salaries, it just removes the information asymmetry between employer and worker, making it easier for workers to negotiate a better wage. Employers can still refuse to introduce pay parity, and many employees probably won’t care that much.
If a company tells you how much they pay, they are also telling every other company how much they will pay. It's basically colluding to keep wages low.
You are worth what somebody will pay you.
I don't get the "it's a person's own responsibility" bit. Why should it be someone's responsibility to divine their true value via time-consuming interviews, rather than simply comparing what companies are willing to pay?
But yes, I don't understand why a company would not at least advertise a minimum of what they are willing to pay to get a candidate to apply. Perhaps they are happy with the candidates they are getting.
Just because Walmart says on their website that they sell an item at $5, does not imply they have made an agreement with other sellers to also sell at $5. Nor does Carvana saying they will buy a car at $20k imply an agreement with other buyers to also buy at $20k.
Is the claim also that at an auction, when people bid on something and yell out a number, they are “secretly” telling other bidders to not bid more?
Markets all over the world for thousands of years work on the basis of buyers telling sellers what they are willing to pay, and sellers telling buyers what they are willing to sell for. The whole process of a buyer and seller coming to an agreement on price is central to determining movements of supply and demand curves.
If either buyers or sellers have sufficient control to dictate prices, then that is a separate issue of there not being sufficient buyers and sellers.
But price transparency always results in a better allocation of resources and a healthier marketplace.
I think it would fine for companies to advertise a sticker price for a job, but nobody expects to actually earn that, you negotiate up from there.
I know a few people who paid more than sticker price for a car in the last year.
Companies can advertise min, max, whatever. The person accepting is going to be deciding based on how good the total offer is versus somewhere else. But if a company knows which way prices are moving since they do a lot more buying of labor than an individual does of selling of labor, then the company has an advantage. Reducing this advantage helps level the playing field.
However, it also speaks to what is valued at that workplace. This matters not just for the "emotional" purposes, but for the implications it has for how the workplace will evolve over time due to those values.
If you are someone for whom personal relationships, negotiating skills, and networking matter more than skill at the job, perhaps you think that a place where a lazy but well-connected developer is paid significantly more, and management refuses to change this, is ideal.
If, on the other hand, you are someone for whom competence, productivity, and ability to do the job assigned is most important...then perhaps you will find that such a workplace will become less and less friendly to you over time.
Having more data in a negotiation is never a bad thing, having less always is.
Strangely, the US tends to pay more than any other country for the work, which is why those who live in other countries would rather move to the US and its non-transparent pay system.
Pay transparency creates commodization of jobs which will only lead to the pay dropping rather than rising. Opaque pricing is great for sellers and the sellers in every market. In the job market the sellers are employees, not employers.
For the same reasons you cite, equal pay is important. Some employees are better than others, and this is very hard to qualify, and the effect is that those who have less skill at negotiation, are underpaid, completely independent of skill, while those who are better at negotiation are paid more, completely independent of skill.
If skill is not going to be a factor in how people are paid, then pay for the role and not the person.
Any given person can and will grow in their role, potentially earning more (but not getting paid more) than they did a month prior; even moreso if they don't have to stress about money all of the time, and can just have all of those concerns alleviated even a little by higher pay.
Most people want to be better at their career, and are bogged down by the myriad of troubles that tight budgets generally cause. Remove these impediments for those who have reached a point in their career where they've earned the right to be without these troubles, and you will see your people take off, like how plants bloom when they haven't seen water in 10 days.
In the worst case, the extreme willingness and patience to waste years of your life on writing a thick paper that has a high chance of never being read by more than a handful of people and then pile on dust in the closet — and choosing that path over creating tangible real-world solutions in the same time.
Not discounting the hard work that goes into a PhD thesis at the slightest and the fact that I know brilliant PhDs with game-changing papers that went on to excel in their jobs, this framing might still give a clue on why, after having hired over a hundred engineers and seeing them develop, I have yet to see a positive correlation between academic performance and job performance.
Same goes for removing impediments. Having gone greater lengths to remove impediments for employees early in my career than any other manager I know, I can attest that even that doesn't motivate certain personality types to "flower". If anything, it motivates them to find more impediments. All the while the employees who just removed the first few impediments themselves are already crushing the next task.
"Whoever wants something finds ways, whoever doesn't want something finds reasons."
- Götz Werner
It depends on the field, but however much effort it takes to get a PhD it's at best a weak proxy for how much value a particular employee provides to the business.
> and you will see your people take off
Yes, you'll see your best employees take off to an employer where they are paid better than their time-serving colleagues.
Compensation is almost never based on what value employees provide to the business but what the market will pay for them. If PhDs get paid more it’s likely because the market is willing to pay more for people with those skills.
Fwiw: I don’t have a PhD. But I do find the lazy PhD bit pretty tiring too.
I was doing ALL of the DevOps and security work, while also contributing to back-end development. I knew the system in and out and was working my ASS off.
When the time for yearly reviews came, I was excited to get a big raise ( to bring me in line with the median for my job title ), and a pat on the back.
Instead they announced some "point-based pay scale" and told me I was technically already over-paid for my position. No raise, no promotion.
The thing is, the point system was based on reviews from my peers. Who all did their own back-end and front-end work and were never really collaborating with me. I was just loudly as possible running things on the back-end and trying to keep my users happy.
ALL of us ended up around the middle of the chart "with expectations we will move up." "Oh, you built the company? Well uh... you're still just a senior engineer."
A week later I had accepted an offer making +50% and they were out one of their foundational engineers. Most of the other devs followed suit. So the pennies they saved lost them pounds of engineers they now had to recruit and re-hire for. What a bonehead move.
So I definitely hear you here: basing pay off of arbitrary points allocated by your peers instead of actually measuring performance is bad in my experience.
This is a key message. Unless you have a contract that says something else in writing, don't expect anything else from sacrificing at an early startup.
You're worth exactly what you can convince someone to pay you, nothing more or less than that.
You can have pay transparency without enforcing strict pay levels per role.
The natural outcome is just that thise who make less than their coworkers will feel undervalued and look for other jobs, which is probably not a big problem.
Studies of workplace motivation and performance often find that one of the worst things you can do is get everyone obsessing about salary all of the time instead of focusing on the work. (Notably, this isn't just bad for the company, it's bad for the workers' quality of life.) I think it's fair to say that sometimes companies are trying to screw the workers, but I also think some of the norms around discretion on this topic were an informal evolved mechanism to dampen the natural status competition people fall into and get them to work more as a unit focused on a goal. While I appreciate the aim behind transparency laws, I'd prefer it if certain things like choosing to talk about salary were protected. Publishing all of the salaries by default seems like a blunt mechanism and strikes me as very libertarian or Marxist thinking where you're either assuming a) a free and transparent market always produces the best result, or b) people fall into broad "classes" in which all individuals share the same interests and will work together. I generally think both of those modes of thought are simplistic and, despite some underlying truth, fail to account for many important complications and unintended side effects.
Meanwhile, Everybody else is doing the bare minimum to close the ticket so they can look good when it comes to pay review time.
I also am a tech worker with no tech degree (no math, CS, eng, etc).
Pay transparency would be run by administrators inside businesses that would likely implement something as you describe: "So-and-so just graduated cum laude from X with a degree in Y therefore they're at pay band Z."
It will be horrible for people who had to self-educate.
I mean, there are modern professions still using medieval terms for this (esquire?)
RCNTX: Either you interview and make hiring decisions, and the behavior you're describing is in fact your own, or you have never actually hired anyone and are speculating. Which is it?
Its really weird to see this offered as a negative of transparency, when it is an example of transparency working.
It does make it more challenging to reward top performers, who might be better off just sitting back and taking it easy, since number of years dictate pay... this is a problem anyway in my industry. People do notice if you're especially lazy or ambitious, but it often all looks the same, and doesn't matter unless you have eyes on management. You wind up being a necessary evil almost no matter what.
I do agree about being too focused on credentials. I could see how this system could do this, but it doesn't have to be that way.
So it worked.
Company valued PhD's most over anything else, and now you had that information and made an informed choice. They made theirs.
When you knew your true pay and future pay you were able to move up to a better compensated position. To me that sounds like things working correctly. Companies will suffer when employees look around and see what their neighbors at other businesses are making and what they could be making elsewhere. But employees will benefit.
In many Asian cultures everyone knows what everyone else makes. In many cases it shakes out that the most deserving end up being the highest paid. Companies can’t benefit from employees keeping their pay from one another. There’s probably a game theory explanation as to how western and eastern cultures could both land on these two different states.
Would you rather be lied to in manager 1-on-1s how you just need to work more collaboratively to get that promotion? What a scam!
It does make it more challenging to reward top performers, who might be better off just sitting back and taking it easy, since number of years dictate pay... this is a problem anyway in my industry. People do notice if you're especially lazy or ambitious, but it often all looks the same, and doesn't matter unless you have eyes on management.
I do agree about being too focused on
And you can indeed choose those things over higher pay. This does not prevent people from choosing something they love doing for less money; it just makes the opportunity cost more plain. I see nothing wrong with this. At all.
So if we look at pay secrecy as a "natural" phenomenon given workplace dynamics, one then needs to ask what one stands to gain from disturbing those dynamics. Anecdotally, the argument I hear is that this causes high performers to leave, causing the company to lose competitiveness. If so, it seems kinda counterproductive to pursue the goal of pay equality, since this entails that there's no incentive to increase company competitiveness (e.g. "eh, someone else can do the work, it's not my job" mentality), but the subsequent lower bottom line gets distributed evenly, meaning that any individual gains are constrained to some local maximum.
That... doesn't sound like an appealing conclusion. I'd love to hear different takes on why pay transparency might make sense, in a global environment where other companies are naturally incentivized to tie hustling to pay secrecy.
I don't see anything in the OP about gating pay-tiers behind arbitrary requirements like having a PhD? Why would a company be forced to do that under this kind of law? You can establish tiers with publicized compensation and still hire the best person for each job; those are independent axes.
I think even the rhetorical question is flawed. Retailers will always display prices, but almost never give you enough information to calculate the actual cost of owning the asset (ie, depreciation).
Will the product break after 2 years of typical use or 20? Can it be serviced? How much does the service cost? How much will the service extend the life of the product by? What is the resale value of the product? How often do I need to replace consumables? What is the running cost of the product (to be fair, large appliances do display this and cars will advertise mileage data)?
If anything, being transparent in terms of purchase price but failing to provide a whole picture of the economics of owning a product has lead to a reduction in the durability of consumer goods. I know my business (online video games store) has started selling lower quality products in response to consumer demand.
That's backwards. The employer is shopping for the candidate, not the other way around. You are the product and they are the one handing over whatever your price is in cash. That's why they ask how much you cost ("what's your salary expectation?") It's the product, the candidate, that typically dodges this transparency.
I think this will turn into a trivial game: every offered job positon will have a comp range of $1 to $1mm annually and between 0 and 5mm RSUs. And sold as pay equity.
Knowing who the overpaid slackers in an org are will help adjust the culture.
Doing the same job title is not the same as doing the same job.
It does make it more challenging to reward top performers, who might be better off just sitting back
Furthermore, in many situations they don't tell you what it costs. In many cases you have to 'interview' with a sales team whose whole job is to find out how much you are willing to pay before telling you a price.
"I am shocked shocked" I tell you"
While I am a fan of pay transparency, something about this bothers me. Does Colorado actually have standing here?
If you have 0 employees in Colorado, you're free to do whatever you want then.
If I have a company based in, say, Arizona, and I put up a posting for remote workers, why should I be forced to abide by the laws of a different state if I'm willing to forgo the talent pool in that state?
I agree with the parent, I'm very curious what standing Colorado has to sue.
You can get around the law if you entirely pull out of the state but otherwise you must play ball.
Regardless, I think the increase in remote work is going to lead to a lot of cases like this where we'll see some things become defacto national requirements because it will be cheaper to come up with one policy that is legal everywhere than 10 policies that are legal in different subsets of the country.
I don't look forward to Texas enforcing anti-abortion laws in other states. You think that's far fetched? How about facilities across the border providing abortions to Texas residents? Or if someone advertises abortion services online, that triggers laws that criminalize advertising services to Texas residents?
Unless the US Supreme Court puts a stop to it, these laws are absolutely coming.
But getting back to the subject at hand, the Texas law, if it survives legal muster, would likely only affect Texas residents who seek abortions within or across state lines as well as non-residents who seek an abortion in Texas. The legality of out-of-state facilities themselves would be left to the courts and legislatures of the states where those facilities operate, regardless of how close they are to the Texas state line. Advertising limitations are a 1st amendment issue, and could easily be challenged in a federal court. Commercial speech is protected speech. If other states like Georgia or Tennessee follow, similar circumstances and limitations would apply.
I don't agree with the law, in fact I find it repulsive, but I think your claim of "different state, no jurisdiction" being a firm rule of American jurisprudence lacks substance. There have been plenty of legal rulings disproving that philosophy where a so-called compelling government interest is involved.
Take car crashes. If a resident of state A crashes in state B, the at-fault party can be sued in state A if the has court relevant subject-matter jurisdiction (which most civil and criminal courts do) over the case and personal juridiction over the plaintiff (which every state court does over its residents).
But the subject of this thread is advertising for jobs. Why doesn't that fall into commercial protected speech?
Yes, the original subject was jobs. IANAL, but the Colorado law is a likely a 1st amendment issue in that the state is compelling disclosure of information from private companies. If a lawsuit ever hits a federal court I expect to see the law upended.
Opening up salary information means that everything about salary needs to be equal, fair and objective. Basically the review system will become pass fail.
Reviews will become bland and meaningless, raises will be standard based on the job classification, anything else wouldn’t be objective. If everyone isn’t treated exactly the same there will lawsuits galore.
Bonuses will also go away, because it’s impossible to give each person unique goals and expectations and fairly assess each person and their custom goals, against everyone else at that same level. Lawyers will have a field day.
Time in level determines promotions, not skill, not knowledge, time in level. Time in level is used because it’s the only objective system that works, anything else is too subjective and will open employers to lawsuits
If you you can’t move up the ranks based on skills and effort why bother trying to exceed?
This salary transparency system will be used by corporate America to suppress wages even further.
Transparent pay doesn't guarantee the type of "equal, fair, objective" pay concept you mention. There seems to be a bit of a false dichotomy in these threads.
I feel these efforts are largely misguided. Companies think optimising rewards is the best way to extract "output" from employees. I can't speak for all industries but at least for those that employ creative skill, this couldn't be further from the truth. People in creative work are more motivated by intrinsic causes like a desire to create something, than by extrinsic factors like pay. Of course, pay is always important but it is something people do not want to think about all the time. Opaque and contrived pay policies create an environment which makes people think and mull over pay all the time which doesn't help anyone.
Government employee here.
> Basically the review system will become pass fail.
Not if you want to advance.
> If everyone isn’t treated exactly the same there will lawsuits galore.
> Bonuses will also go away...
We get bonuses.
> Time in level determines promotions, not skill, not knowledge, time in level. Time in level is used because it’s the only objective system that works, anything else is too subjective and will open employers to lawsuits
Time in level results in an increase in level steps, not promotions (pay chart is a grid: level x steps). If it did, then everybody would be promoted at the same time, which can't happen because there are only so many openings. If you want to be promoted (i.e. increase in pay level), requirements are laid out very clearly. They do not happen automatically.
This seems like a pretty pessimistic take. Employees won’t be bringing lawsuits without merit; if a person has been coasting it will be quite difficult for them to prove that they should be compensated similarly to someone else that did not before a jury. If the differences in contributions are not that significant then differences in compensation do seem unjustified don’t they?
Of course it's hard to quantify skill, and of course meritocracy is not perfect. But when you take meritocracy out of the equation, you're left with seniority.
I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.
Ofc. This doesn't solve the problem that different employees have different pay for same job.
Companies understand the game, and hire them as contractors. I've seen that play out multiple times: quit your job, come back as a contractor, make twice as much after taxes. I've seen the reverse as well: when freelancers want to "retire" but want to earn money for a few more years, they seek regular employment and coast by.
They justify paying you less for the same work because of your location. So you are as qualified as someone else but make way less.
On the other side their products cost the same globally.
But now you have that info when applying to the job and it's up to you if you consider that fair or not. So far until now it was a (probably known) secret.
Information is power.
McDonalds will pay more in one town than another and sometimes pay varies depending on the location in town. They've done this for decades, and it has traditionally caused folks to take on a slightly longer commute to bring home a bit more extra money, but most folks don't because it still isn't a lot of pay.
The bigger point is that you know these things upfront. Want more money? Go ahead and live in the more expensive area.
And honestly, equal pay doesn't necessarily mean equality. Will both rates of pay give you a similar quality of life? Is it more fair that the person in Kentucky has a much higher quality of life than the person in New York?
Quality of Life isn't objective. People who choose to live in New York probably wouldn't have a better quality of life living in Kentucky and vice versa, even at the same pay, because so much of what defines quality of life for those people is tied up in the things that New York or Kentucky can uniquely offer.
Even between, say, Chicago and NYC is a huge difference if the salaries are equal (because housing prices are cheaper in Chicago, and the quality of cities isn't going to be so different).
But it's a huge step forward in information-equality.
I think this will even out over time as more workers are remote only. Once someone in Tulsa can do the same job as someone in San Francisco, and also easily find another similar job, I think the pay in Tulsa will go up and the pay in SF will go down.
Companies are already fighting this by saying, "you'll get paid $X if you live anywhere in the US, but you'll get an extra 20% if you come into the office in San Francisco every day". So now you have to choose how much that 20% is worth to you.
And you can know this thanks to the transparency and it help to make an informed choice. And if this policy prevent them from recruiting good worker, they will change it.
In a non transparent setup, they could be doing it a none would be wiser.
Fine by me. I'm happier in the middle of nowhere, anyway.
As a bonus, this might provide some upward pressure on lower salaries. If a company doesn't want to tell the world they pay you $THRESHOLD - $10k, maybe they'll just bump you up to $THRESHOLD. In fact, if it were up to me, I'd probably choose this threshold in a way that this upward pressure affects the most people possible (so, closer to $100k than $500k).
The problem with this is that different industries will hit this threshold at different points in their cost structures. FAANG might hit it for entry level software engineers while other industries might never hit the threshold for any employees. I don't know how to resolve this, but I definitely think transparency above some limit will cause more problems than it solves.
This is the real solution. Lower & Middle class people are being crushed financially in part because they don't talk about money. Lots of rich people keep score, middle class people are too "classy" to do it.
ftr Glassdoor data is 100% bullshit. I make about 4-5x what they claim I'm worth.
Levels.fyi is a much better resource. You have to take into account the value of offered equity (not realized equity at time of vest!). For many engineers equity is 50% or more of compensation.