TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Should Faculty Know Their Colleagues' Salaries?

Business Insider, Here's Why Whole Foods Lets Employees Look Up Each Other's Salaries:

Whole FoodsHave you ever wondered how much money your boss makes? If you worked at Whole Foods, you could look it up and find out.

Leaders of the supermarket chain believe in keeping employees as informed as possible, even when it comes to pay. Under the company's open policy, staff can easily look up anyone's salary or bonus from the previous year — all the way up to the CEO level.

The unusual Whole Foods policy is designed to both encourage conversations about salary among staff members and to promote competition within the company, according to The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers, a new book by entrepreneurs Leerom Segal, Aaron Goldstein, Jay Goldman, and Rahaf Harfoush on innovative management practices. Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey introduced the policy in 1986, just six years after he co-founded the company. In the book, he explains that his initial goal was to help employees understand why some people were paid more than others. If workers understood what types of performance and achievement earned certain people more money, he figured, perhaps they would be more motivated and successful, too.

(Hat Tip: Greg McNeal.)

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Whole Foods is run by a professed follower of Ayn Rand, i.e., someone with the intellectual judgment of a 14-year-old. And he can also fire anyone who complains!

Posted by: Brian | Apr 30, 2014 4:48:25 PM

It's always an interesting question as to why one should conceal information. One reason for salaries is to prevent poaching. With public institutions, a big reason is to prevent corruption. It's interesting to see a private company that thinks revealing info will improve incentives.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Apr 30, 2014 10:17:05 PM

@Brian, That 14 year-old intellectual judgment seems to have built a successful business. Not sure your analogy holds much water in this instance.

Posted by: Daniel | May 1, 2014 8:19:12 AM

@Brian That 14 year old intellectual judgement seems to be 8-9 years older than yours.

Posted by: Fred17 | May 1, 2014 4:40:40 PM

@Brian. Pretty knee jerk reaction. I guess you must be a redistributionist..

Posted by: Rick Caird | May 1, 2014 6:58:35 PM

In Texas all faculty salaries are public information.

Posted by: cosmicray | May 3, 2014 4:24:28 PM

@Brian Really? Who do you think has the intellectual capacity worthy of your admiration? The president or some other intellectual?

Posted by: Mark P. Yablon | May 3, 2014 8:04:33 PM