Earlier this year, Gravity CEO Dan Price sat down with Manoush Zomorodi, host of the ZigZag podcast, to discuss why he decided to announce a $70,000 minimum wage back in 2015 and how he and the company have fared since. The conversation was deep and wide ranging, covering everything from how Dan founded his first company while still a teenager in Boise, Idaho, to how Gravity weathered the 2008 recession without any layoffs, to how the publicity around the $70k decision has affected the public conversation about income inequality.
“There’s some number where, when you hit it, the money over that just doesn’t make your life much better,” Dan said, explaining why he decided to cut his own seven-figure salary in order to pay for the initial raises.
Since the announcement, Gravity Payments has grown substantially, increasing the number of employees from roughly 120 to nearly 200. Those employees have also experienced several personal transformations as a result of the higher salaries. The number of babies born to employees has increased from 0-1 per year to roughly 6-7 per year. More than 10% of employees have purchased a house for the first time. Personal individual 401k contributions have more than doubled, and more than 70% of employees with debt have been able to pay some of it down.
“The worries of not being able to pay for something have disappeared,” wrote one employee when asked how Gravity’s wage policy has affected their life. “I don’t have to make a choice between fuel or groceries. I don’t have to worry about an unexpected emergency.”
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“There is a certain level of stress that comes with not making a living wage,” wrote another employee. “Without that stress I feel like I am reclaiming my life. I am able to take care of myself, and my health. I wake up each day happier.”
On the episode, Dan reflected on these changes and how we, as a society, still have a long way to go toward reducing inequality. “On my good days,” he said, “people tell me, ‘Hey Dan, I got a raise because of you,’ or ‘I quit my job because of you, and I’m doing better.'” Or on my really good days…many of these other entrepreneurs call me and tell me that they did the same thing [by raising salaries at their companies]. But the bad days are when I look at the statistics and the trends. And I really thought that, in 2015, that we [as a nation] were done with that. That we were either going to stabilize or change directions…and [instead] we have just kind of accelerated the problem.”
In September 2019, Price announced that all employees at our new Boise office (previously an independent company called ChargeItPro that Gravity acquired as a subsidiary in 2017), would start earning the $70k minimum by 2024. Prior to Gravity’s acquisition, more than half of ChargeItPro employees were earning less than $30,000 a year, though Gravity increased the minimum salary there to $40,000 in late 2017.
You can listen to the full episode in the player above, on the ZigZag website, or wherever you stream your podcasts. For more information on Dan, Gravity, and the story behind our $70,000 minimum wage, pre-order a copy of Dan’s book.
Written by Brooke Carey, Lead Storyteller
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