July 30, 2013, 10:20 AM — If you want to know how much you should make, ask your coworkers what they make.
It's true: Salary has always been right up there with religion and politics in the pantheon of Things You Don't Discuss In Polite Company - especially with your colleagues.
Yet career experts say that's no longer the case and are encouraging professionals, especially those in nascent careers, to broach the topic with coworkers.
The main reason: protecting yourself as a brand and safeguarding your worth to maximize your career and earning potential.
"Know your value, know what you're worth, know what kind of money you should be making," Rachel Sklar, founder of Change the Ratio and TheLi.st, advised via LinkedIn's Connect Professional Women's Network. "Money is the key to autonomy. I wish I would've known when starting out how important it is to take care of yourself financially."
One reason sparking the change is the rise of Millennials, people who - thanks to social media - are comfortable sharing all manner of personal information publicly.
In addition to young professionals, some companies are taking transparency one step further by sharing information on all salaries in the organization. They say disclosing salary numbers ultimately reduces employee frustration, paranoia and secrecy.
"Usually, salary is an emotional and sticky situation. In the end, people actually waste more time and energy wondering how much Bob or Jill is making and thinking the worst," Blake Jones, co-founder and CEO of Namasté Solar, told Business Insider.
The act also forces management to enumerate why certain staff make more than their peers. If you want to know why your teammate makes thousands more, transparent companies will specify the reasons. This not only justifies the higher salary, but also motivates the lesser-earning employee: “Want to receive a salary like Jack? Here’s what you have to do.”