My smartphone will occasionally suggest articles I should read, ostensibly because I’ve read stories on similar topics or searched for the subject.

I don’t recall looking for the topic of a recent Wired magazine article my phone said I should read, but I’m glad I did.

The column, by Wired East Coast news editor Emily Dreyfuss, explored what she called one of the last great social taboos: discussing your salary. The impetus for the column was a recent Twitter campaign to highlight pay inequity using the hashtag #talkpay. People were encouraged to post their salaries while discussing the issue.

It was a top-trending subject on Twitter last week, and spawned a number of online columns at other news sites. How successful it was at removing the taboo is debatable — even Dreyfuss chickened out on disclosing her salary. Many of the people who tweeted their pay appear to be software developers and computer engineers and my, they are well compensated.

Dreyfuss points out that while discussing compensation is not illegal and employers generally cannot prohibit such talk, most companies subtly or overly discourage the practice.

But the push to be more open with compensation reminded me of a seminar I attended at the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s annual conference in Texas a couple months ago.

As I wrote in an article on, Tim Gray of Frigi-Temp Temperature Solutions in Youngsville, N.C., uses what he calls “open-book management” at his HVAC construction company.

He didn’t say if he discloses his salary, but he is very open about how the company is doing fiscally. He believes it makes for happier workers and a more successful HVAC market business.

“The team members need to understand the financials of the situation,” Gray told attendees. “They need to be able to connect the dots between what they do — whether in the office or in the field — and the health of the company.” 

If you demonstrate trust by sharing such details, it will benefit your business, he added.

It may not be as upfront as telling people what you earn, but it's more than many companies do, especially smaller, family-owned businesses where most executives are related.

So what do you think of such an approach? Does it make for a happier, more committed workforce or just breed misunderstanding?