By DON McINTOSH
When it comes to openness about how much money they make, Gen Z is all about pay transparency. The Baby Boom generation, not so much, according to a June 2022 survey of 4,778 users of the online employment networking service LinkedIn. Asked whether sharing pay information would lead to greater equality in pay, 81% of Gen Z respondents (25 or younger) said yes, but only 28% of Baby Boomers (age 58 to 76). Attitudes seem to have shifted steadily across generations: 47% of Gen Xers (age 42 to 57) agreed, and 75% of Millennials (age 26 to 41).
The trend held up in answer to a separate question: Who would you yourself share pay information with? Slight majorities in all generations said they would tell family members how much they earned, but when it came to the important category, coworkers, differences were stark. Just 9% of Baby boomers said they would, compared to 32% of Gen Z (24% of Millennials , and 17% of Gen X).
When it comes to pay equity and transparency, unions are the greatest invention of all time. In most union contracts, everyone doing the same work the same length of time makes the same wage —and they can read their own contract to see what their coworkers make.
But union members make up just over 6% of the private sector workforce. Most workers operate in workplaces where their employers would prefer to keep it a secret what each employee makes. That actually goes against workers’ interests, because employees are more likely to ask for a raise, and get it, if they know that equally placed coworkers are being paid more. It’s actually illegal under the National Labor Relations Act for an employer to prohibit workers from sharing what they earn with each other.
Pay transparency isn’t just good for workers overall. Studies have found that greater transparency can shrink pay gaps that disadvantage women relative to men.