Millennials are breaking the one big salary taboo — here are 6 reasons why

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Flickr/Leo Hidalgo

Ask a baby boomer about their salary, and you’ll probably get a dirty look. But ask someone in their 20s or 30s, and the response might be different.

A survey conducted by The Cashlorette, a personal-finance site run by Bankrate, found that people 18 to 36 were far more comfortable than older workers discussing their salaries with coworkers, friends, and family members.

Thirty percent of millennials surveyed said they felt comfortable discussing pay with their coworkers. Meanwhile, just 8% of those aged 53 to 71 said they felt the same.

Millennials also said they discussed pay more with their family and friends.

Here are a handful of reasons to explain the budding trend.


Millennials value equality and fairness.

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Thomson Reuters

There’s a wealth of evidence that millennials emphasize fairness in both life and work, constituting things like diversity in the workplace and gender equality.

A 2016 Deloitte survey found that 36% of millennials working in a place with high job satisfaction said there was an emphasis on fairness, while only 17% of people in low-satisfaction jobs said the same.


Millennials value transparency.

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Flickr / Envato

The same Deloitte survey found that open communication was one of the guiding forces of job satisfaction where millennials work.

Forty-seven percent of millennials who said they were happy with their jobs reported that there was “open and free-flowing communication” at work, while 26% of people who were dissatisfied said the same.

The market-research firm ORC International has found in its studies that the average millennial wants to know how they’re doing 71 times a year.


Millennials prefer to collaborate, not compete.

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Flickr/Brijesh (Bubba) Patel

If people are focused on one-upping their colleagues, they may be more likely to keep their salary a secret. But millennials largely prefer to work together with their peers, not compete with them.

Malcolm Harris and Neal Gorenflo, the authors of the book “Share or Die,” explain how the mindset applies not just to jobs, but to living situations and ride-sharing.


Millennials aren’t generally selfish.

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Wikimedia Commons

Every generation is somewhat self-centered – that’s human nature. But compared with past generations, millennials as a group think less about themselves and more about others.

In the workplace, this has manifested itself as coworkers often having each other’s backs and keeping an open dialogue about pay.


Millennials share the same financial concerns.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty

Part of that empathy comes from the fact that many millennials are saddled with thousands – if not tens of thousands – in student-loan debt.

Roughly 70% of the 2014 graduating class left college with debt, one report found, and that percentage is increasing.

Many people having the same problems is more likely to lead to a culture of openness in which people seek to help others more often.


Salary discussions are becoming more common.

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REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Millennials are contributing to the culture of openness, but they’re also responding to it.

Companies like SumAll and Buffer have implemented policies of making pay transparent to all employees, if not the world. Their leaders believe, like millennials, that greater transparency reduces tension and ups people’s performance.

“It’s kind of crazy that in America, which is founded on this capitalistic vision of meritocracy, that we’ve obfuscated one of the core components of it,” Dane Atkinson, the CEO of SumAll, told Business Insider in May.