Thing is, me thinking it and convincing the majority of my two hundred odd employees that breaking what in the UK is one of the last taboos are two quite different things.
My money has been a matter of public record, available publicly at Companies House for years, so I suppose I might have been less sensitive to the idea than some. But for some of the staff revealing all to their colleagues was a real big thing. We are British and these days we’re happy to talk about sex, but salary details, it seems, are the last taboo!
I’m not sure what people thought would happen if they were faced with the knowledge that a desk-mate was making more (or less) than they, for what might be a similar role, but there was indeed some trepidation.
I will also admit that I was a little nervous about things also. After all, if people suddenly start feeling aggrieved and unhappy with their lot it’s me they are looking at, and when the staff are distracted, or not totally on board the only losers are, of course, the customers!
But despite the naysayers, the doubters and my own concerns I thought we’d give it a go and see what happens. After all, we are devoted to being completely transparent when it comes to our pricing, and all else about the company looking outwards, so why no practise what we preach on the inside? All sounds good so far, right?
Oh, and one more thing I haven’t mentioned, while we were doing all this we allowed a Channel 4 film crew to document it all, and stick around for a month to see what happened next. The results were interesting, sometime shocking, and occasionally created tension and some difficult situations.
And if you don’t believe me you can see for yourself on Channel 4 tonight (Show Me Your Money! Wednesday, July 11, 10pm; sorry but it wouldn’t be me without a plug for the show!).
I don’t want to spoil things, but I can say that after the traumatic ‘salary reveal’ everybody was asked to put in a pay (rise) request, and the different department elected negotiators to serve on a ‘fair-pay’ team.
They assessed all the pay demands and tried to come up with a plan that was fairer than we currently had, and that was acceptable to me. For my part I agreed to hear them out, but made it very clear there was little or nothing in the pot, and that some people might need to consider taking cuts if things were going to become truly fairer.
It has to be said they took their job very seriously, and even called me up on Skype one morning while I was in Spain to try and get a few quid out of me. I won’t say how the whole project turned out, except that we’re stronger than ever, and I’m still a believer in transparency.