If you know me, you know I'm all about compensation transparency. 💰 🕵️
Why is this important? Because knowledge is power. Everyone benefits from this information, especially people who have been systematically excluded and under-compensated because of their race, ability, gender, citizenship status, caretaker status, and other identifiers. Discussing money is a social taboo in the US, and this is one of the worst manifestations of it.
I have noticed over the years that a significant portion of UX professionals are under-compensated for the value they contribute to companies, especially new entrants and contractors. The trend remains strong. Why? In addition to systemic factors, some people just don't know what fair compensation actually looks like, and they don't have the practical skills or confidence to effectively negotiate. Companies know this and use it to their advantage.
This leads to a lot of guessing, fear, and internalized behaviors and mindsets. Many of us are socialized to believe that we shouldn't ask for what we want or deserve, that doing so is being "greedy" (can't count how many times I've heard people say this), and that we should just take what we are given. It's a fact that women are far less likely than men to negotiate, which means they leave tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table over a lifetime in salary and compound interest. This also means they are not negotiating on the broader points of a total compensation package. 😣
Lack of compensation transparency only benefits employers and their bottom lines. It's rare that a company will disclose compensation bands, but luckily we're starting to see some change, with Colorado becoming the first state to adopt mandatory compensation transparency for job postings through its 2021 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. Naturally, some companies decided not to hire people in that state. Too bad that's also illegal under this law. This should tell us something about how powerful this type of information is for working people.
Then there are companies with obviously predatory practices, which bank on the fact that candidates lack negotiating and compensation knowledge and skills. Recruiters are good at controlling these conversations in their favor. Some of them gaslight people into believing that their expectations are outrageous, or try to convince them that they should be "grateful" to even receive an offer. 🤬
I'll repeat. Knowledge is power.
In the interest of open access information, I created a public spreadsheet of compensation data for UX professionals, with the hope of helping people in negotiation and promotion conversations. The database contains hundreds of anonymous entries and data for full-time, contract, and consulting jobs in UX across the globe, primarily for jobs in research and design. There are also entries for strategy, operations, content/writing, management, and other UX roles.
I encourage UX professionals to add their data, especially those with undue privilege, and hiring managers who have knowledge of multiple roles.
Thank you for doing your part to contribute to this piece of the equity puzzle. 🧩