Many employers insist that the amounts individual employees are paid must be kept confidential. Many also have at least informal proscriptions against employees discussing their compensation with peers.

Often there’s a sound, if self-serving reason for silence.

Seldom if ever are compensation packages completely fair and just. While there may be no excuses for unfair compensation levels, it turns out there are plenty of reasons, most of them matters of historical circumstance or employer convenience.

Most likely none of them will matter in the moment you find out you’re the victim of an unfair compensation arrangement. You will almost certainly feel pain, anger, insult and indignation. But the big question is what to do about it?

Actually, the first consideration should be what not to do about it – because it’s not likely that reflexively reacting to the emotional turmoil you are feeling will get you closer to your goal: pay equity. More likely, it will just raise your “aggravation index,” which lowers your net worth to your employer.

A Harvard Business Review article offers a strategy to help you think through the situation, two brief case studies of how others handled it, and a handy list of what to do and not do to act in your own interests -- and, perhaps, alleviate the injustice.


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