Many of us were told not to discuss religion, politics, or money when we were growing up. But in 2022, many Millennials and Gen Zers are shaking up the norms.
Just ask Alexandria resident and Salary Transparent Street CEO Hannah Williams, who has been shattering the stigma of talking about salary on her TikTok account.
“I think we just haven’t been brainwashed yet,” says Williams on why younger generations are into salary transparency. “Our generation, Millennials and Gen Z, I think we’re kind of jaded. We’re tired of the ‘it gets better’ mindset. … When you are on the side that’s being taken advantage of over and over again, you get sick of it.”
Before becoming a content creator, the Georgetown University grad went from working as a telemarketer making $40,000 to a job as a senior data analyst with a salary of $115,000 in just three years. That’s when Salary Transparent Street started to come to fruition, and she was able to quit her day job.
“I was like, I’m so sick of this whole argument of asking for the range and going back and forth with recruiters — like salaries should just be transparent,” she says. “That’s just fair. And I had the crazy idea to go out on the street and ask people.”
She published the first Salary Transparent Street video in April, and it was an instant success — it has 5.5 million views on TikTok.
@salarytransparentstreet Georgetown, Washington D.C. 🌸 #salarytransparency #salarytransparentstreet #georgetown #washingtondc #careertok #moneytok ♬ original sound – Salary Transparent Street
Since that initial video, Williams has amassed a combined following of over 1.4 million users across all social platforms, including over 858,000 on TikTok.
From hanging around the Mosaic District to venturing to New York City and Venice Beach, Williams has expanded her interviews and research across the country. And with that, she says she has noticed distinct patterns in how people share their salaries.
She has found more women who have been willing to share than men. Those who are 40-plus usually aren’t interested in sharing, but when she talks to people under 30, the numbers “go through the roof.” When it comes to race, Williams has found that white people are most willing to share. She has also noticed that people who make either less than $30,000 or more than $150,000 a year are less likely to want to appear on camera. “I think it’s that our society ties so much of our identity to our salaries and money, and so there’s a little bit of shame and embarrassment on both sides, which is very interesting,” says Williams.
The 25-year-old says that it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to create her videos.
“Time is money,” says Williams. “It takes time to drive out to places, to fly to places. That’s money that comes out of our pocket. My fiancé also quit his job to support this business with me. [Sometimes] we go to an area and we don’t get any interviews … because people don’t want to talk or there’s not enough foot traffic.”
Williams has expanded her brand beyond videos to provide a market research guide, send out newsletters, and host Q&As on social media to keep her community informed on the latest in the conversation surrounding salaries.
“I hope that [followers] just get confidence in themselves — to understand their value in society, in their lives, and at work, and try to understand the separation between those identities,” says Williams. “Reclaiming ownership of how we view work and our identity and separating the two, but also increasing your salary because you’re probably underpaid.”