Millennials are breaking the one big salary taboo — here are 5 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.

According to a survey conducted by The Cashlorette, a personal finance site run by Bankrate, people 18 to 36 years old are far more comfortable discussing their salaries with coworkers, friends, and family than workers in older generations.

The survey found 30% of millennials feel comfortable discussing pay with their coworkers; meanwhile, just 8% of those aged 53 to 71 felt the same. Millennials also discussed pay more with their family and friends.

The reason for this involves a number of factors, including personal values and the economy. Here are a handful to consider.


Millennials value equality and fairness.

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Thomson Reuters

A wealth of evidence has found that millennials broadly put emphasis on the value of fairness, in both life and work. Everything from diversity in the workplace to gender equality reflects the millennial view of what constitutes fairness.

According to a 2016 Deloitte survey, 36% of millennials working in a place with high job satisfaction said there’s an emphasis on fairness, compared to 17% of people in low-satisfaction jobs.


Millennials value transparency overall.

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Flickr / Envato

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

“Open and free-flowing communication” was present at work for 47% of millennials who were happy with their jobs. It was present at just 31% for people who were dissatisfied.

Market research firm ORC International has found in its own 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 own salary a secret. But millennials largely prefer to work together with their peers, not compete with them.

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


Millennials share the same financial concerns.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty

Unlike baby boomers who could generally afford to pay for college by working part-time jobs, many millennials are saddled with thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, in college loan debt.

Roughly 70% of the 2014 graduating class left college with debt, one report showed, and the rates are growing.

Having the same problems has led 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 growing the culture of openness, but they’re also responding to it.

Companies like SumAll and Buffer have implemented policies that make pay transparent to all employees, if not the entire world. Leaders at these companies believe, like millennials, that greater transparency creates less 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,” SumAll CEO Dane Atkinson told Business Insider in May.