Who hasn’t wondered how much money your boss or cubicle-mate earns? Starting today, the 180 employees at Seattle-based Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop – from the counter scooper to the founder -- will know the wages of all their colleagues.
Today’s big reveal coincides with Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned the previous year. Founder Molly Moon Neitzel says pay transparency is the No. 1 way to change the gender-pay gap. Women in Seattle make just 78 percent of what men do.
“A lot of the benefits of wage transparency to Molly Moon’s will be kind of inspirational,” Moon Neitzel says. “Honestly, employees who make $18 to $24 an hour will see the wages of their boss, and their boss’ boss, and see you can have a real career in an ice cream shop and make good money.”
In an email to employees explaining the change earlier this year, Moon Neitzel cited a Time magazine article that said only 17 percent of private companies practice pay transparency.
Moon Neitzel wanted to launch the initiative a year ago but her management team insisted the company first eliminate tips, which skewed wages and created inequities in pay. Simply sharing tips with all employees would have created a “bookkeeping nightmare,” Moon Neitzel says, adding that tipping is racist in origin. According to the Ford Foundation, tipping grew in popularity because restaurants and railroad companies in particular realized they could pay recently freed slaves lower wages in lieu of tips.
Eliminating tips also creates a predictable stream of income for employees, which has the added benefit of teaching younger workers how to budget and plan for expenses, she says.
Moon Neitzel held personal individual meetings with each employee to explain the changes. She also held town hall meetings in person and on Slack, an instant messaging app. She says some employees grumbled, but many came around after the meetings. The company encourages employees concerned about their pay to talk to managers and the human resources department. Salary information will reside in a Dropbox folder all employees can access.
She admits that many of her peers “have been scared” to follow in her footsteps.
“I don’t really get nervous when we do these bold plays,” Moon Neitzel says. “I think stuff will come up and we’ll be asked some hard questions, but once we answer those and settle whatever conflicts come up, we’ll be better off as a company and the employee will be better off.”
Molly Moon’s first opened in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood in 2008 and now operates six locations in Seattle and one in Redmond.