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Finance expert explains why it's utterly important to openly discuss salaries: 'I undervalued myself'

Salary Transparent Sheet owner shares what prompted her to quit her job and start her own company to help others.

Finance expert explains why it's utterly important to openly discuss salaries: 'I undervalued myself'
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @salarytransparentstreet

Gen Z finance expert Hannah Williams has a mission to make salaries transparent all across the country. The reason she wants to achieve this feat is because, throughout her career, she has seen individuals, especially women and people of color, suffer because of the hidden salary data. Williams understands that information is key and wants to make it available to people so they can negotiate for the amount they truly deserve. In her interview with Indy100, she talks about how she ended up with her dream project - Salary Transparent Street and her plans in regards to it in the future.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Tima Miroshnichenko
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Tima Miroshnichenko

Williams' main aim with Salary Transparent Street was "to create more financial transparency and close income disparities, particularly for women, people of color and other minorities." Today, the influencer has a thriving TikTok account (@salarytransparentstreet) with 1.3 million followers, but in the past, she was like millions of other job-seekers trying to figure out the right number to offer and accept. The whole saga began when she accepted a job as a senior data analyst with a $90,000 salary. "I didn't even negotiate my salary," Williams said. "I just accepted the first offer they gave me. I didn't have any fuss about it and I thought I was making really good money."



 

After getting "super burnt out," the analyst decided to do some research about her role, which did not come easy at all. She had to go six pages deep in Google to get an idea about the right pay for a senior data analyst in Washington. Her research gave the heartbreaking result that she had been underpaid about $20,000 to $25,000.

 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Salary Transparent Street (@salarytransparentstreet)


 

"I had vastly undervalued myself when I accepted the job offer that they gave me," she said. "So at that moment, I realized not having paid transparency and not knowing what people make had cost me $20,000." Armed with the right information, she found another job where she was able to negotiate for the amount she deserved.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Salary Transparent Street (@salarytransparentstreet)


 

The experience left her with the desire to help others. She made a TikTok account, where she posted a video sharing the amount she had been paid for every position in her career. "I know there's a problem here. People are interested in this [or] it wouldn't have gone viral. If people weren't curious," Williams added and then asked herself, "How do I take this a step further?" After that, she decided to go on the street and ask people about their salaries to create a more informed workforce. Her first video received a massive positive reaction from the people on the platform. 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Salary Transparent Street (@salarytransparentstreet)


 

In the next three weeks, she posted more content related to the issue, which led to her social media skyrocketing. It encouraged her to leave her job and fully commit to this idea. "This is a huge opportunity… it's my moment and I have to take the risk and I also didn't have too much to lose," she said to the outlet. After all, at the time, she was 25 with no kids and had savings behind her. "So, really everything aligned for me to take that risk. And for me, the thing that I've always wanted is to have an impact in my job and to feel like I actually am making a change and that's exactly what that was."

On her account, she posts interviews with people from various cities, such as Washington D.C., New York, Oregon, Chicago and Indiana, where they discuss their salary and job experience. The trip to Eugene, Oregon, was her favorite because of how open people were to discussing these topics, something which doesn't happen a lot. For the opposite reason, New York was her least favorite place to interview. "It's our least successful trip every single time we go to New York because people do not want to stop and talk to you. They see you, you know, with a camera and a mic and they're like, ‘Absolutely not. Don't talk to me'," she said.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Salary Transparent Street (@salarytransparentstreet)


 

Her interviews have led her to discover some interesting patterns in the demographics. People over the age of 40 and women were more willing to share information about their pay in comparison to other groups. "It's really interesting how those demographics play out in terms of like what people culturally believe what they've been brought up to believe all of that plays out," Williams commented. The influencer's next aim is to create a revolutionary database that includes real-time salary information from people all across the country.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Salary Transparent Street (@salarytransparentstreet)


 

For all the job-seekers out there, her suggestion when it comes to negotiating is, "Make sure you're checking all these different sources of data to make sure you understand how much you're making based on your location, company size, years of experience, educational background."

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