What To Do If You Learn You’re In a Salary Discrepancy

Have you ever learned that a colleague is making more money than you for doing the same work, or with equal or less seniority/credentials?

Posted: 19/03/2024

Read Time/Watch Time

5 minutes

Who should read this?

Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.


Melanie Barham


Global content

What to do if you learn you’re in a salary discrepancy

Have you ever learned that a colleague is making more money than you for doing the same work, or with equal or less seniority/credentials? 

It’s an awful feeling. An article in the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association magazine shared some interesting statistics: In 2021,  new graduates around the province of Ontario reported higher salaries than their more experienced colleagues (Doherty, 2021). In an employee market, this might become more commonplace than in previous years.

If you’re like most people, you may feel immediately deflated, angry, and like trust has been broken. Some people will feel as though they are not appreciated for their contributions, as money is often viewed as the currency of appreciation. When you find out that there’s a wage discrepancy between yourself and another equal or less qualified person in the workplace, here are some steps to take.

1.Take a breath: Salary discrepancy can be incredibly emotional, especially as many of us don’t enjoy talking about money and have a lot of big feelings about it. Consider taking time to gather your thoughts, and talk to a colleague or professional for advice.

2. Stay curious: Sometimes the information you receive isn’t exactly as it seems. Where did you receive your information from? Does this source have your best interests at heart and is it likely to be completely true? Flipping the script to be able to calmly ask questions like, “I recently learned Sarah is being compensated $x, and I know I am being compensated $y. I’d like to verify this is correct and also what the numbers include?” can be incredibly helpful in determining where the true discrepancy lies. Finding out more information also allows you to gather the information you need to make the case for why you are worthy of the same or more compensation. Imagine, “I can understand why Jill receives extra compensation for managing the staff payroll. Thank you for sharing. Given the additional duties I have also taken on that take up more time, I’d like to request $X.”

3. Get your information prepared: Be sure to prepare a statement about the value you bring to the workplace. Get clear on what you do, where you excel, and how that aligns with the workplace values.

4. Consider how you will represent yourself and your emotions: Although it can be extremely frustrating and hurtful to learn of a salary discrepancy, it is critical to ensure you can conduct yourself calmly and respectfully. This does not mean you should shove your feelings down and ignore them, only that you should consider how you let those feelings be known to work toward a productive outcome. For example, I might choose to say, “When I learned that Mike made $20,000 more than me, I have to say I felt angry and disappointed. I’d like to discuss this discrepancy further,” instead of using an angry tone of voice.

5. Ask for transparency: How will this situation be rectified now? What systems will be put in place to avoid future scenarios like this? It may be worth it to consider discussing this in several meetings, and including some information gathering about finding fair metrics for evaluating performance to help guide discussions.

If you’re looking to take on situations in your workplace with confidence, and a sense of calm, and also get what you need, consider taking our course, ‘The Successful Negotiator.  It’s custom-built for professionals who want to learn to authentically communicate their needs effectively.

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