Open Salaries Reflections

One question I got in response to yesterday’s open salaries post was:

And what is your reflections after going through this initiative. How accurate is the data and what observations on the team synergy since then.

My reflections are actually not much. I just took a quick look with more focus on people in the product management job family. In general there were some minor surprises, but nothing major. It turned to be not as scary as it looks (or maybe it is for others, I don’t know).

As for data accuracy, well, it is based on trust. You can’t verify its accuracy unless the manager is also on the list and verifies the numbers of their directs (Managers can’t join the list unless they also share their salaries).

I feel it is accurate to big extent because of the game theoretical element involved if you lie and get caught. I think of it as a variant of prisoner’s dilemma. However I don’t certainly know what makes sense from a game theoretical perspective, assuming one wants to look good while getting access to everyone’s info. Is lying better? And if you lie, should you lie by posting a higher salary? or a lower one? I definitely don’t encourage anyone to lie for the obvious ethical reasons, I am merely interested in the game theoretical analysis of the situation.

On the synergy point, I can’t see any team synergy effects because it is voluntary and the company is big. I think you would only notice this if a big % of a specific team members are on the list and can see the differences in their salaries. And it will make matters worse if those differences are big between people who assume they have the same skills/contribution as their peers.

Open Salaries

I joined Zalando open salary initiative. You submit your salary information to a form, once you do this you get access to all the other submissions of the form.

It took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea. It is scary having your salary exposed to your colleagues.

It can lead to resentment if you discover you are under paid, or fear of envy/hate if you discover you are paid much higher than your colleagues.

After a lot of thinking and discussions with the founder of the initiative inside the company, I decided to join. I already knew where I am in comparison to my salary band before joining. However I had a few reasons to join.

1) Gathering the courage to do this. I like to push my limits and the fact I was fearing the consequences that may arise from this – including my own insecurities – made me more determined to do it.

2) Understanding the market. I hope one day to start a company and this was free data to understand how much it costs per engineer/product manager/data scientist…etc.

3) I don’t fit the typical stereotype of a wheelchair user who is also a social justice warrior, however I thought I might help someone by exposing this info. You never know.

At the end, I believe money doesn’t define one’s worth. What matters is the value you create in the universe and how you treat others around you. That being said, I believe money defines your level of freedom, which I am a big believer in, and that’s why I believe in money.