Feb 17, 2020

Sharing your compensation and understanding #knowYourWorth

Yesterday morning, as I started my day scrolling Twitter in bed, I found out about #knowYourWorth. People, mostly software engineers, were sharing their total compensation. Transparency is key

The whole point of this thing (is it a movement?) is that people understand how much similar engineers can make.

Salaries transparency is they only way to fight effectively against inequality, which usually comes from information asymmetry. When you go and negotiate your salary, your boss knows how much you’re currently paid, how much everybody around you is paid, how much he’s willing to give you and so on. You? You know you want more, that’s about it.

You’re NOT underpaid if you make less. You don’t know those people on twitter, they might be much better than you, they might have a difference idea of what “senior” or “staff” mean. There are plenty of good reasons why people are paid more or less compared to each others.

In the meantime, you can make a bucket of money and still be able to get more in another company or make less than a similar role in your company. The amount doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, that was on Twitter

I still believe the result of knowYourWorth was positive but since it’s Twitter: everything tuned into shit pretty quick. You can see someone making 300K/year in Utah and the first reply is “underpaid af”. ?‍♂️ We know it’s bullshit, of course it’s a great salary, especially outisde of SF and NYC.

It started with people already confident with their salaries. Once they shared it, either you were also fine with yours and decided to share it or you decided to stay silent. I believe this created a bubble were only people extremely well paid went public. Europe vs America

It’s important to understand the difference between French salaries and American salaries. They are very hard to compare. I’m afraid many people tend to take their way of life in their country and just imagine what it would be with an American number. That’s not how it works.

?? Software engineers in France usually get around 7 or 8 weeks of paid vacations (legal minimum is 5 weeks here). Heathcare is included, retirement plan is included and part of your taxes have already been taken out (what people like to call charges patronales here).

?? In the US, you get a lot more money upfront, then you pay your taxes. The tax rate in the US is much higher than you might think. Without getting into the details, you have to factor in a lot of things are very costly in the US while very cheap (or practically free) in Europe. Unexpected medical bills, child day care, college tuition…

I think a good rule of thumb is that the gross salary in the US needs to be twice as high compared to France, to keep the same lifestyle. It’s simply wrong to say that “they make twice the European salaries”. #knowYourWorth is US-centric?

I have read complaints that the movement was US-centric. I also want to emphasis that it’s not US-centric by design. If Europeans were willing to share their salaries, it would be more balanced. We just don’t like it. ?