The Atlantic has an excellent article by Jonathan Timm on how companies try to keep employees from discussing their salaries with coworkers and how this perpetuates unfairness and lets them underpay some people.
From the article:
… about half of American employees in all sectors are either explicitly prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing pay with their coworkers. In the private sector, the number is higher, at 61 percent.
We don’t know whether gag rules directly cause wage discrimination, but they undoubtedly open the door to it. Employers who keep pay secret are free to set pay scales on arbitrary bases or fail to give well-deserved raises because of social norms. “When you don’t have transparency and accountability,” Hegewisch told me, “employers react to these pressures and biases and women tend to lose out.”
The article also makes the point that workplaces can not legally keep employees from revealing their salaries or retaliate in any way when they do.
I examined this topic in an article way back in 2006 and I am convinced that keeping salaries secret harms not only employees but also workplaces.
Read the article here – it’s called Top 3 Reasons why Secret Salaries are a Bad Idea.