Whether companies should reveal how much employees earn is a touchy subject and one that could be headed to the front of the national conversation. Pay transparency will be the focus of tonight's PBS debate show, Point Taken, featuring a panel of guests who will clash over whether it could help narrow gaps in pay between genders, racial groups, and socio-economic classes.
The idea that companies and society at large would benefit if everybody knows what everybody else is earning has been gaining traction recently, helped along by the availability of such information on websites such as Glassdoor.com, PayScale.com, and Salary.com.
Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey argues that salary transparency creates motivation for employees to perform better so they can earn as much as their higher-paid counterparts and helps to create a more open and trusting company culture.
The tech startup Buffer goes even further, posting all salaries, and its formula for determining pay, online for all to see.
Arguing in favor of transparency on the PBS show will be Dan Price of Gravity Payments, who earned international attention and an Inc. cover story last year by implementing a $70,000 minimum wage at his Seattle credit-card processing company, Gravity Payments, and Ijeoma Oluo, a Seattle-based writer and editor-at-large at The Establishment, a woman's multimedia platform.
Arguing against will be Patrice Lee, and director of outreach at Generation Opportunity, a limited-government activist and policy network for millennials, and Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of the libertarian magazine Reason. "I'm pro-experimentation," Welch said by email. "If I'm running a company (and I do manage employees currently), I probably choose not to make salaries transparent, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that salaries present only one of many components to a compensation package and work situation."
In a poll commissioned in conjunction with tonight's show, the Marist Institute for Public Opinion found that more than seven in 10 Americans do not think private companies should be required to publish the salaries of its employees, nor should firms disclose pay rates internally.
A new show launched in April, Point Taken is taped weekly before a live studio audience in Boston and moderated by host Carlos Watson, a former MSNBC anchor and co-founder of OZY Media. There will be a pre-show debate tonight on Twitter at 10 p.m. Eastern and the show will be broadcast at 11 p.m. and posted online.