Remember the gloom-and-doom pundits who predicted failure for Gravity, a payments processing company, when its CEO, Dan Price, decided to raise the minimum salary for all of his employees to $70,000? They were very wrong. The BBC reports that, just a few years later, both the company and its workers are thriving:
More than 10% of the company have been able to buy their own home, in one of the US’s most expensive cities for renters. Before the figure was less than 1%.
“There was a little bit of concern amongst pontificators out there that people would squander any gains that they would have. And we’ve really seen the opposite,” Price says.
The amount of money that employees are voluntarily putting into their own pension funds has more than doubled and 70% of employees say they’ve paid off debt.
But Price did get a lot of flak. Along with hundreds of letters of support, and magazine covers labelling him “America’s best boss”, many of Gravity’s own customers wrote handwritten letters objecting to what they saw as a political statement.
At the time, Seattle was debating an increase to the minimum wage to $15, making it the highest in the US at the time. Small business owners were fighting it, claiming they would go out of business.
The right-wing radio pundit, Rush Limbaugh, whom Price had listened to every day in his childhood, called him a communist.
“I hope this company is a case study in MBA programmes on how socialism does not work, because it’s going to fail,” he said.
Two senior Gravity employees also resigned in protest. They weren’t happy that the salaries of junior staff had jumped overnight, and argued that it would make them lazy, and the company uncompetitive.
This hasn’t happened.