Everyone’s pay published online?

Americans not keen

Everyone’s pay published online?

Americans not keen

Trusaic recently commissioned a survey to learn Americans’ attitudes towards pay transparency and below are the findings.

The survey, conducted for us by YouGov, asked respondents: Would you like information on everyone’s income to be made publicly available online, like in Norway?

  • Over half (57%) of Americans would oppose the U.S. adopting the practice in Norway, where the government publishes online information on everyone’s income for anyone to access
  • Over a quarter (28%) would welcome such a system; where 13% were “strongly in favor” and 15% were “slightly in favor”
  • A total of 57% were either “strongly against” (45%) or “slightly against” (12%)
  • Younger respondents were over twice as likely as older ones to favor the U.S. adopting Norway's pay transparency approach
  • Over a third (36%) of the 18-24 age group liked the idea, compared to one in six (17%) of those aged 55+

That same survey asked American employees if they knew about their colleagues’ compensation.

According to the survey, only 14% of U.S. employees know what all their co-workers earn. More than double (32%) say they don’t know what any of their co-workers earn and 50% say they know what only few or none of their co-workers earn. In short, the vast majority of U.S. employees are in the dark about their colleagues’ pay.

And a big part of that is due to barriers established by employers. Following up on the question regarding workers’ knowledge of colleague pay, the survey asked American employees if they could easily find out -- with employer assistance -- their co-workers’ pay. The findings were:

  • 59% of U.S. employees don’t have employer permission and easy access to find out what ANY of their co-workers earn
  • Just 15% of U.S. employees have employer permission and easy access to find out what ALL their co-workers earn
  • A further 5.5% have permission/access to find out what “few” of their co-workers earn; 8.5% have it for “about half” of their co-workers; 12% for “most of them”

The survey also inquired into Americans’ feelings towards pay transparency with the question: Would you be happy for ALL your coworkers, (i.e. everyone in your organization) to know what you earn?

  • A quarter (24%) of U.S. employees would be happy for all their co-workers to know what they earn
  • Only 18% of all Americans would be happy for all their co-workers to know what they earn

Finally, but not least, the survey asked: Would you rather have to let your co-workers know what you earn or have to run naked through the workplace in view of everyone?

  • 11% would rather run naked through the office or workplace than let co-workers know what they earn, while a further 34% declined to pick an option.
  • The remaining 55% would prefer to disclose their pay. When extrapolated to the 2020 U.S. census, the 11% of respondents who opted to run naked through the office amounts to 28 million. That’s a lot of naked people.

Knowing how much co-workers earn in the workplace has been shown to help reduce both gender and racial-ethnic pay gaps. The idea behind the poll wasn’t to impose a pay transparency law the same as Norway, but rather, to call attention to the importance of pay transparency in and outside of the workplace.

CONTACT: For more information on the survey, contact [email protected] or (213) 814-5760.

Methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 1,276 adults, of which 481 were employees. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th - 16th October 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (aged 18+). Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

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