By Emma Goldberg

Carolyn Kopprasch earns $225,000 a year. Maria Thomas makes $267,890. Then comes Darcy Peters with a salary of $105,143.

That information, taken in before I exchange pleasantries with these women, feels almost illicit — like the confessions of a stranger oversharing at a bar.

We’ve never spoken before, and there is a certain intimacy that comes from picking up the phone to call someone knowing nothing but her name and her salary. And there is also, some companies bet, a certain kind of power.

Ms. Kopprasch, Ms. Thomas and Ms. Peters all work at Buffer, a fully remote social media company — “Slack is our HQ,” employees joke — that made the unusual decision, eight years ago, to disclose every employee’s salary online. The goal was to close the firm’s gender pay gap, which hovered around 4 percent in the early years of the initiative.

It didn’t entirely work, the company discovered. It turns out that the gap between men’s and women’s earnings is a numbers problem; making those numbers public doesn’t make them even.

America’s overall raw wage gap was 17.7 percent in 2020, though it’s far bigger for Black and Hispanic women. The gap is usually attributed to the fact that women work two-thirds of the country’s low-paying jobs and that the fields dominated by men tend to offer higher wages.

But even when women and men work the exact same jobs, men earn more. That’s partly because women are less likely to negotiate for higher pay and more apt to be penalized when they do.

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