• Shea Swauger

Salary equity requires transparency

Updated: Jun 20

FY21 Personnel CU Roster (All Campuses-F
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One of the main ways employers hide wage discrimination is to make it against policy, or at least taboo, to discuss how much people are paid. This secrecy allows employers to pay women less than men, BIPOC people less than white people, and disabled people less than non-disabled people. One tool to fight for wage equality is wage transparency. If everyone knows what everyone else earns, it's easier to ask questions and raise concerns.

My employer, The University of Colorado, makes it pretty difficult to find out what people get paid. They have a Salary Information portal that doesn't list names, the data isn't downloadable, and it hosts over 27,000 records but you can only see 50 at a time! Even if you can parse its HR jargon, you can't distinguish people with the same generic job titles, rendering it mostly useless for equity purposes.

I learned that if you email enough people and go higher up the org chart in the system office, you can eventually get a copy of everyone's salary in a spreadsheet. That most recent time I requested this, I was told that in order to get people's names I had to file a Colorado Open Records Act request. I pushed back saying that I hadn't had to do this before and to please point me to a change in statute that stipulates this, at which point I was forward to yet another person and finally given the spreadsheet.

The University of Colorado is a public institution. Our wages are public data. They hide them to make it harder to organize, so I'm making it easier. We need to normalize sharing how much money we make so that discrimination and exploitation are more difficult.

I make $78,204 a year. You can look it up, which is the first step towards more equitable wages for everyone.

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