By John Arenas | March 4, 2014

Corporate Transparency: How Much Is Too Much?

In the rapidly changing world of work, some companies are trying radical new ideas.

Think corporate interests that embrace contemporary notions like workplace flexibility and non-traditional work environments are on the cutting edge? Not when compared to San Francisco-based social media startup Buffer, a firm that is delivering a whole new level of transparency.

The company’s CEO Joel Gascoigne published all of his employees’ salaries—including his own—online. For the public.

In Silicon Valley, there’s a culture of people jumping from one place to the next,” says Gascoigne. “That’s why we focus on culture. Doing it this way means we can grow just as fast—if not faster—than doing it the ‘normal’ cutthroat way.”

Buffer calculates salary by a percentage of the following: function of job, level of experience, seniority, and location. By making the exact formula public knowledge, the company eliminates speculation about equity and the unhealthy side of internal competition.

To some extent, his theory holds up: Every new employee knows (more or less) what he or she is signing on for, and transparency does yield trust. But we can’t help but wonder whether listing each individual’s salary is taking things a step too far—particularly when it comes to one’s social life.

When it comes to transparency, how much is too much?


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