– What do you think I’m paid?

For the last few months I’ve been working with my good friend Amy Peniston to build an application that allows you to guess the pay of your LinkedIn connections and provides you with an aggregate “wisdom of crowds” pay estimate for that individual in response. Since finishing work this evening, I’ve been contacting lots of my friends and connections through social media to let them know what we’ve built.

Not everyone gets it, but some people really do. Throughout our careers we all face choices, some big and some small but the really useful guide posts are often missing. When my manager at Barclays – drunk – told me how much he got paid I couldn’t believe it and I had absolutely no idea how I could ever get from where I was to where he was.

Now I live in Bermuda and have a good idea how much a Bermuda based Actuary gets paid I can’t believe that no-one promoted this career as a backup plan for Cambridge mathematicians, like me, who were never making it on to the academic track.

We hear all the time about the gender pay gap, and there are all kinds of complexities to it. Do we have a gender pay gap? or a motherhood pay gap? A career break pay gap or something else. I don’t know, but I do know that many people who are underpaid don’t suspect it and many that do suspect it lack any meaningful way to judge.

Going to “the market” to get a job offer is one way of finding out how much you should get paid. However, since many employers insist on taking your old salary as their primary data point in computing their offer, it is unlikely to contain a great deal of information.

I will finish with a story that an old colleague shared with me this evening when I told him about He remembered once being in the pub after work when our Director said, “We would never hire a contractor on less than x“. Obviously, you know how this story ends: he was currently being paid less than x. I worked with this individual for many years, he was a very competent engineer but had no way of knowing what pay he should have been asking for, at the appropriate moment, before he signed his contract.

Come, join us, let’s make pay transparent without having to break the taboo (or contractual prohibitions) of revealing our own salaries.

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