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    Sometimes ignorance is leverage. A few years back, when I made the switch from one media company to another, it was precisely the lack of transparency about my salary that allowed me to more than double my salary in the process.

    I happen to be good at job interviews, and at the end of a particularly impressive one I threw out a very high number, thinking to myself that the worst that could happen would be a “no.” They said yes. This would have been much harder to pull off had my prior salary been published. Ever since then, one of the pieces of advice I give to women who are negotiating their salary is to always ask for as much money as they can say out loud without laughing.

    One young woman I spoke with, who currently works in the government, voiced concern about having the money conversation be so open. “I think it does take away a certain leverage,” she says of the fact any new employer could, if they wanted to, Google her previous salary. “I will try to avoid as much as possible [revealing that it’s public]. I think when I move to my next job, I will try to withhold.”

  • Four of the best secret shopping destinations in Milan

    Sometimes ignorance is leverage. A few years back, when I made the switch from one media company to another, it was precisely the lack of transparency about my salary that allowed me to more than double my salary in the process.

    I happen to be good at job interviews, and at the end of a particularly impressive one I threw out a very high number, thinking to myself that the worst that could happen would be a “no.” They said yes. This would have been much harder to pull off had my prior salary been published. Ever since then, one of the pieces of advice I give to women who are negotiating their salary is to always ask for as much money as they can say out loud without laughing.

    One young woman I spoke with, who currently works in the government, voiced concern about having the money conversation be so open. “I think it does take away a certain leverage,” she says of the fact any new employer could, if they wanted to, Google her previous salary. “I will try to avoid as much as possible [revealing that it’s public]. I think when I move to my next job, I will try to withhold.”

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    Recently, there has been a push by some major digital-based companies towards salary transparency. The current thinking―one that is very much based on the ethos of Internet that the more we know, the better―is that open books will result in an even the playing field.

    In the male-dominated world of tech, where women notoriously have a more difficult time getting funding, an even playing field is in the interests of many. To that end, Pinterest recently announced that it was conducting a pay audit of all its employees, and the real estate start-up Redfin went so far as to publish it’s salaries. Women are notoriously not as good at negotiating for themselves as men, and there is some belief that a lack of salary transparency can further hinder their efforts.

    At first glance, this may sound like a simple and obvious fix: If you can see how much your co-workers are making, you can demand a comparable amount. But, as with all fundamental shifts it comes with it’s own set of complications.

  • Fall Fashion Editorial: Time for texture

    Recently, there has been a push by some major digital-based companies towards salary transparency. The current thinking―one that is very much based on the ethos of Internet that the more we know, the better―is that open books will result in an even the playing field.

    In the male-dominated world of tech, where women notoriously have a more difficult time getting funding, an even playing field is in the interests of many. To that end, Pinterest recently announced that it was conducting a pay audit of all its employees, and the real estate start-up Redfin went so far as to publish it’s salaries. Women are notoriously not as good at negotiating for themselves as men, and there is some belief that a lack of salary transparency can further hinder their efforts.

    At first glance, this may sound like a simple and obvious fix: If you can see how much your co-workers are making, you can demand a comparable amount. But, as with all fundamental shifts it comes with it’s own set of complications.

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    Cahn took her model from her former employer, Google, where she was head of sales and saw the benefits of the open system there. Google didn’t publish individual salaries, but made ranges for roles public, so that employees had a solid sense of exactly where they stood in the company: “Everyone had their levels and tangible steps how to get there.”

    It’s worth noting, that Silicon Valley is not a pioneer in this particular area. The Federal Government publishes the salaries of all its employees every year. (There, the government has the added incentive of needing to account for taxpayer dollars.)

    Kara DeFrias, deputy director of 18F, a digital services agency that works within the federal government, finds the lack of transparency at most companies when it comes to salary necessarily complicates the hiring process: “I’ve long been frustrated that HR departments don’t publish salary ranges on job descriptions,” says DeFrias. The obscurity of salary information can set off a “cat and mouse game” when you’re applying for a job: “If you ask too early what the range is, you could look like a jerk; if they ask previous salary or desired pay range first you’re screwed.” DeFrias says she always asks first now when she’s applying for a new job.