What Salary Transparency Can Do for You

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Advice-givers the world over like to emphasize the importance of data. Know everything you can, they say, before making the best decision available to you. Yet when it comes to our careers, huge swaths of workers have little to no idea what's a fair salary for their time and expertise.

In 2015, Glassdoor released its Global Salary Transparency Survey, which analyzed employees from seven industrialized Western countries and what they knew about their own industries. Strong majorities said that salary transparency — knowing industry standards and what your colleagues make — was both good for business and morale, but nearly 7 in 10 also said they don't have a strong idea of what constitutes fair pay in their market.

It's not that workers don't want to change this; more than 60 percent said they'd be happy to share their salaries anonymously. It's something companies might want to take into account going forward, since "[m]ore than half (56 percent) of employed adults feel they must switch companies in order to obtain any meaningful change in compensation."

Other experts and researchers have some tips about instituting salary transparency practices at work. Until then, it's worth knowing how to dig up the right data on your industry before switching jobs or asking for a raise. Always keep in mind that you're worth more to your employer than you're actually receiving — and that there are lots of ways an offer of compensation can work out in your favor. The process can be fraught, especially for women, but self-advocacy is often the best and only tool we've got.