I teach a few public classes at a handful of studios. I love seeing the progress of regular students over time and meeting new people.
A yoga studio is a great place to work.
Recently, I was given a raise (it does happen!) and immediately told not to tell anyone about it.
In my non-yoga life, promotions and raises are celebrated. Being financially appreciated is something we all want and work hard to achieve. Yes, there’s a little flash of envy when someone else gets it but there’s also healthy competition.
The reality of our world is that, too often, men are given higher pay than women in the same job; whites are paid higher than non-whites for the same work. In yoga, the long term quality of teaching can earn less than the short term popularity of a teacher.
Bias, both conscious and unconscious, thrives in secrecy.
Have I kept my raise a secret? Reluctantly. The situation reminds me of a work experience I had when I was around 17 or 18 years old. I was working at a retail outlet store on Townsend Street (last time I drove by, Adobe took over the whole building). I was excited to be there, starting my independent life. There were experienced retail mavens and people just taking the j-o-b to pay the rent. Over lunch, a few of us started talking about bills and money. I quickly realised that everyone else was paid more than I was. Not just a little more, 50-75% more. I asked my manager to meet. And, I asked why. I expected to hear that I was too new, too green or had to prove myself before being paid the same as others. She turned red and stuttered. The owner was in the office and turned red as well. They declared that it was “a mistake that would be corrected immediately”.
I believed them and never sued for discrimination. Ageism against the young used to be an issue. Today, ageism against anyone over 50, especially in yoga, is a growing problem.
Every time a yoga manager tells me to keep any aspect of my pay a secret, I wonder…which side of that ugly wall of unfairness am I on?
This article in New York Magazine gives more insight into the benefits of salary transparency.