The good boyfriend: This CEO takes a pay cut and gives out raises

The Good Boyfriend

CEO Takes a Pay Cut

//Photo Courtesy: ABC News // Hearts Courtesy of Your’s Truly//

Yesterday morning  I was brewing my coffee and catching up on emails when a news story on the Today Show surprisingly caught my attention. And as a show that basically serves as background noise until Kathy Lee and Hoda come on, that’s saying something.

Of course I’m talking about the news of Dan Price, CEO of the Seattle based startup Gravity, announcing his new “$70,000 minimum wage” policy. Over the next three years he will raise the salary of even the lowest-paid customer service representative to a minimum of $70,000. This initiative will increase nearly 70 of 120 employees salaries, and decrease Price’s paycheck from nearly $1 million to $70,000. As someone who has yet to sign a job offer letter of that amount, I was floored. Is this guy for real?

He sure is.

The best part? He got the idea after reading an article that claimed extra money can make a big difference in the lives and overall happiness of people who earn less than about $70,000 a year.  Naturally I ran the numbers when I read this and concluded that he may be on to something. Making more than $70,000 a year would provide a certain level of comfort, security, and well yes, overall happiness that I’ve yet feel in my career thus far.

The thought of some 23 year-old college grad walking into work one day only to be told their $32,000 entry-level position was now worth $70,000 made me think about two things:

1. Can money actually buy happiness? Because I’m leaning towards YES on this one. 

2. Who knew a CEO could actually give shit about happiness. 

Ok, the second thought is a bit harsh, but let me rephrase. You show me a handful of CEO’s who have made efforts or started initiatives to increase job satisfaction or wages at their company, and I’ll show you ONE who actually had the cahonas to sacrifice his own paycheck to do so. The point being, there’s a lot of talk in the C-Suite, but unfortunately for us, it’s just talk.

I don’t mean to insult business owners and CEO’s. I fully understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go into building a successful business. I also know a company’s earnings are due in large part to the contribution of it’s leader. Dan Price built Gravity from the ground up. It was his idea and his work that made it the multi-million dollar business it is today.

But Dan Price recognizes some things other CEO’s seem to miss: That while he may have made the company what it is today, it’s the people he hires that will make the company what it could be in the future. The level of investment on that value can be different depending on the CEO. For Dan Price his level of investment was “happiness”, and happiness had a price tag of $70,000.

So from someone who spends a lot of time talking about bad boyfriends, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this CEO, and this company for that matter, is the definition of a “good boyfriend.”

A good boyfriend makes you feel valued. A good boyfriend treats you like an equal. A good boyfriend gives you a reason to feel loyal to him. And a good boyfriend, wait for it, genuinely cares about your happiness.

The problem is our complacency with the bad boys out there. The United States has one of the world’s largest pay gaps, with some studies showing chief executives earning nearly 300 times what the average worker makes. After a while, we grow used to this gross statistic and write it off as something in our society that will never change.

But it doesn’t have to be. Things can and should change. One way will be the Dan Price’s of the world making noise. But more importantly, the fight is on us. We should negotiate salaries and jobs that don’t simply allow us to survive, but encourage us to thrive. Sure we need more good boyfriends, but as many of you ladies know, some boys need a little guidance on how to be good.

So before you run off to Seattle (although I can’t say I’d blame you…I mean, the mountains, I die), think about what you can do to change your circumstance. Now that you know the happiness of 120 employees at a modest Seattle startup is being prioritized, start prioritizing your own happiness. The good boyfriend will follow.


For the full story on Gravity, check out the full video here:

1 Comment

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