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The Mushroom School of Management thought continues to flourish: keep them in the dark, throw lots of dung on them and expect them to grow.

When management finds it difficult to answer those fundamental questions you listed, Chuck, they have failed to exercise proper management skills. No policy that can't be explained should be permitted to exist. If senior executives pressed their compensation staff to educate them on those issues, they could experience the benefits of pay transparency.

When it's kept secret, everyone knows it is bad. When it is open, everyone knows it is defensible.

Before working at my current employer, I always worked at law firms, all of which which published associate salary and benefits for everyone to see. In my current position, I along with about 10 other people in a company of 600+ have access to all employee compensation data. Your assertions are dead on. Years of career band and salary compression, weird "silver bullet" hires and retention offers that made sense at the time, etc. all add up to one stinky pile of numbers.

My current employer has a policy of not telling employees their own pay range. The justification for it was an immature (in work experience terms, mostly) management team that did not know how to have conversations about money, and an HR staff stretched too thin (and in many cases, too inexperienced in pay matters as well) to be able to educate the masses effectively.

Naturally, we have lots of complaints about a lack of understanding of our pay practices and career paths. Even so, trying to advocate for change in this area often feels like tilting at windmills.

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