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How much do you make? | 25-year-old goes viral for discussing pay transparency in DC

An account on TikTok called “salarytransparentstreet,” created by Hannah Williams went viral for the two videos they posted on pay transparency in the DMV.
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FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2020 file photo, The TikTok app logo appears in Tokyo. Many people have embraced cooking during the pandemic, when they've been home, bored, looking to try something new. TikTok was ready to fill the gap as a foodie paradise, and has seen more than 15 billion food posts. TikTok, an app best known for dancing videos with 1 billion users worldwide, has also become a shopping phenomenon. National chains, hoping to get TikTok’s mostly young users into its stores, are setting up TikTok sections, reminiscent of “As Seen On TV” stores that sold products hawked on infomercials. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

WASHINGTON — How much do you make? Still being a taboo question to ask someone, pay transparency is something Gen Z and millennials are demanding.

An account on TikTok called “salarytransparentstreet,” created by 25-year-old Hannah Williams went viral for the two initial videos posted on pay transparency in the DMV. While walking along the streets of Georgetown in D.C. Williams asked pedestrians what they do for work and how much they make.

“I feel like we need to get it out of our heads that salary defines us or says anything about our value or humanity,” said Williams.

While walking along the streets of Georgetown in D.C. Williams asked pedestrians what they do for work and how much they make.

“The goal is that the more we talk about salaries transparently and talking about our jobs transparently we’re helping women and people of color,” explained Williams. "Those are the people that are really disadvantaged by having those closed-off conversations and gatekeeping that information."

Williams said while approaching people to discuss their wages, she found that more younger people were open to discussing their salaries than older people.


Georgetown, Washington D.C. 🌸 #salarytransparency #salarytransparentstreet #georgetown #washingtondc #careertok #moneytok

♬ original sound - Salary Transparent Street

“There’s this myth that people believe that talking about your salary is illegal, but that’s not true," she said. "It’s this myth that’s been pushed on us by corporate because it benefits companies but not employees."

Williams is correct, discussing wages is not illegal in the U.S. According to the National Labor Relations Board, “employees have the right to communicate with other employees at their workplace about their wages” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

On the NLRB website, it states:

“If you are an employee covered by the Act, you may discuss wages in face-to-face conversations and written messages. When using electronic communications, like social media, keep in mind that your employer may have policies against using their equipment. However, policies that specifically prohibit the discussion of wages are unlawful.”

The most shocking salary Williams said she heard was from a teacher who said they made around $83,000.

“That was the most shocking to me because I’ve known that teachers are underpaid everywhere,” she explained.

Williams is working as a senior data analyst remotely as a contractor in the DMV area and makes $115,000 a year.

“Paying your dues” a frequent adage attributed to young people entering the workforce is what Williams claims to be “Bull....”

“I think it’s horrible to say that we should just kind of stick it out and pay our dues. Life’s too short," she said. "If you’re unhappy you can leave anytime you want and rewrite your own story."

Within the past two and a half years, Williams says she has moved through five jobs and has landed to making six figures in her early twenties.

After going to community college, she transferred to Georgetown University and assumed she would not have a hard time finding a job. She was incorrect. At 22-years-old Williams graduated from Georgetown without any job prospects and student loans. Eventually, she was hired as a telemarketer making around $40,000 a year.

She said she hated it; so, she quit after two months. After that, she hopped from job to job and increased her paycheck each time.

“Everyone told me ‘you have to pay your dues [and] you have to stay there, if you quit it’s going to look bad.’ I said, ‘screw that my life is too short’ I can start over and re-write my own path anytime,” she said.

Now, Williams says she is “very happy” with her job and that she is in the right career for her.

The discussion on pay transparency is not new, however. In February, Victoria Walker, a journalist, went viral for her tweet on pay transparency in the media industry. 

Walkers' Twitter thread continued with an additional tweet from her saying "I debated whether I wanted to be so transparent but as journalists, we cannot demand transparency from powerful entities without being willing to do the same ourselves. So, #shareyoursalary."

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