What Is "Equal Pay" for Developers

I’ve seen another loop of the “all coders should be paid the same!” discussion. This viewpoint ignores a fundamental factor in deciding pay; The amount of money someone needs to feel it’s worth working for a company, which varies massively depending where the work is performed.

Basically all business operate to achieve a task in the most cost effective way. This allows the company to build up cash reserves for unexpected issues or expansion. So the amount “paid the same” will actually be is likely to be the mid or low current salary rate.

In many countries it’s a legal requirement that senior management act in the interest of the company, and paying more than neccessary for employees, tax, etc., is usually seen as being contrary to that legal requirement. One example of this, from the US, the Dodge vs The Ford Motor Copmany.

The thing which adds significant variance to salaries tends to be related to where someone has to work. If a company wants an office in an expensive area, they’ll need to make sure they pay enough for folk to live near, or commute to, that office.

If they didn’t folk wouldn’t work there for very long.

Unfortunately when you have a fixed location where you need folk to travel to, and a shortage of reliable, cost-efficient housing or commuting options, you get a feedback loop between living costs and salaries, so both rise.

If, on the other hand, you eliminate the need to go to a fixed location (e.g. switch to remote working), you get rid of the feedback loop, and employers don’t need to keep salaries high to ensure employees can live somewhere where they can get to a specific office.

So, for many companies, remote working lowers salaries not because they value the work done any less, but because they no longer have to pay a high base price to cover cost of living in a specific area.