One thing I find interesting about the concept of open salaries is that, at first, people normally assume the concept is impossible, but when they consider it, they find it makes sense.
At the Financial Times Best Workplaces Awards in Berlin in 2006 I met Stelios Stavrides from Piscines Ideales, a Greek swimming pool company, who had come in the top ten best workplaces in Europe. We were discussing transparency and he commented that everything in his company was open. ‘Except salaries, of course.’ I love to rise to a challenge like that and, as with most people, he found it hard to find a reason why they had to be secret.
At the same event two years later I met his son, who was also involved in running the business. I asked him if his father had mentioned anything about our conversation. ‘Oh, that came from you, did it?’ he responded. ‘Well, last year we published the salaries for our senior management. That went well, so this year we published them for all our staff. We haven’t looked back.’
In 2009 Piscines Ideales was rated the best workplace in Europe among small and medium-sized businesses. I can’t claim that moving to transparent salaries was the reason but it certainly doesn’t seem to have done any harm.