Advocating pay transparency and better salary in Malaysia is Malaysian Pay Gap, an Instagram page where people have been anonymously sharing their salaries through DMs. Employees are also sharing their qualifications, years of experience, and sometimes even some advice for peers.
With the first post dating back only three days ago (22 February 2022), this account has grown rapidly to garner over 40K followers. Given the account’s reception, it’s obvious Malaysians have a vested interest in the financials of others.
But for those submitting their own details to be pored over by the public, we wondered, was there no concern over who was really behind the page, and what their intentions were?
Seeking to know these answers for ourselves, Vulcan Post reached out to the page expecting little in reply, but to our surprise, its admin was swift and candid in responding.
Meet the admin
As expected, this page was built on a subject that’s dear to its founder’s heart.
In her time as a freelance photographer, branding consultant, and copywriter, Prestine frequently encountered clients who requested “dirt-cheap offers.”
Freelancers who struggle to balance pricing their services fairly while ensuring they don’t chase most customers away would relate to how difficult navigating such requests can be.
Thus, keen on understanding the market pricing of the industry, Prestine contacted her photography friends. Yet out of seven people, only one replied.
“That was perplexing to learn since they fail to recognise that a union is only beneficial to our own kind,” Prestine told Vulcan Post. “It’s critical that we band together and price our minimum worth so that clients can be educated and have realistic expectations.”
Prestine also has experience in the gig economy, as she needed to supplement her income while she pursued her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
“I went from being broke and booted out of school for not having the means to pay my tuition to having financial independence and security through hard and smart work,” she recalled.
Excited to pass around what she’d learnt, Prestine began sharing her money-making methods on Instagram, but was later urged by others to not reveal too much.
This boggled her mind; to her, information was power, and she felt it would be selfish of her to keep others from benefiting from her genuine experiences.
Not wanting to give up on this ambition though, she found the opportunity to continue her mission in the form of the Malaysian Pay Gap page. It was a chance to share not just her own experiences, but those of others too.
The idea came to her one night before she fell asleep, just three days ago. When she woke up, she brought that vision to fruition.
Prestine is currently running the account by herself. She never intended for the account to be so popular, but she was able to leverage her other account, 9hoursofsenses, by inviting some followers there to post on Malaysian Pay Gap.
“However, the big numbers came only after Suraya from Ringgit Oh Ringgit shared [the page] on her social media,” she explained. Prestine actually had texted Suraya for a shoutout, and the blogger obliged.
In the time I spent writing this, the account has gone from 41.1K followers to 42K, and the number just keeps rising.
Trust is a two-way street
From the perspective of employees who are already disgruntled with the pay grade they get, this page might be a godsend, to the point where they may gloss over the potential risks it poses.
For one, there is the issue of privacy. Malaysian Pay Gap was previously discussing the inclusion of payslips on its IG Story, but an anonymous user stepped in to highlight the legal implications, as that would signify the collection of personal data. So, Prestine has decided that she will no longer ask for or accept payslips.
Nonetheless, those who’ve submitted their details have already put a lot of trust in one person, someone whose identity they most likely have not even thought of verifying.
Prestine’s efforts to bring up pay transparency discussions are commendable, and as she assures Malaysians that their personal information other than what’s needed to make a post will be kept confidential, we can only choose to take her word for it.
She also claims that she deletes the DMs received daily after extracting the relevant information, but anything can go wrong in between. Considering the massive popularity the page is gaining in so little time, though Prestine may have noble intentions, others eyeing the page may not.
In order to ensure that the private data would not fall into the wrong hands, she would need to safeguard the page’s security well.
During our interview, she made sure to clarify one thing: that the purpose of Malaysian Pay Gap wasn’t to place the blame on anyone, employee or employer otherwise.
While employers should be held accountable to provide their workforce with fair pay, employees have the responsibility to upskill and continue self-improvement too.
After all, as she concluded, “An ecosystem with fair leadership and competent employees makes for a happy and healthy workplace.”
Featured Image Credit: Prestine, founder of Malaysian Pay Gap