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Employees at Seattle’s Molly Moon’s can now see what colleagues are paid

Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (seven locations in Seattle and Redmond), is more than just an ice cream genius. She’s also very politically active, having worked on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage campaign and Washington state’s paid family leave campaign.

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And for 2019’s Equal Pay Day on April 2, she announced that Molly Moon’s is attempting to close the pay gap by introducing pay transparency.

“We decided we wanted to be a leader in closing the gender pay gap in Seattle,” said Neitzel. “Seattle has the worst gender pay gap of any city in the nation! Women make 78 cents to the dollar that men make in Seattle which is just crazy. So we decided to take the biggest, boldest step that companies can take to help pay equity and go pay transparent. So we published a spreadsheet of everyone’s compensation at Molly Moon’s from out newest hire, fresh out of high school ice cream scooper, to myself and everybody in between.”

The spreadsheet is published internally, not publicly. The idea is if you know what your coworkers are making, people who do the same job as you, who have the same experience as you, and you see they’re being paid more, you are far more motivated to talk to your boss and see about a raise.

Only 17 percent of U.S. companies, including Whole Foods and Seattle’s Redfin, use the pay transparency system.

“I think people are scared and we have this weird cultural thing about privacy around money. But I think the more women realize that privacy is the patriarchy keeping us from making less than men, they will start to stand up and ask for pay transparency. And I think men who really want to fix this problem, too, and I think most men do, need to understand that the privacy is not more important than equity.”

Neitzel said they spent about a year gearing up for this announcement.

You do want to get your ducks in a row before you go pay transparent and you want to take a good hard look at your own pay structure up and down your company and say ‘do I think we’re doing everything as well as we could?’ and fix the problems that you see. We did want to fix something major before we went pay transparent and that was tips.

We realized that tipping at Molly Moon’s had become such a substantial part of the income for some of our workers that it had become really inequitable. So we eliminated tips and we gave everybody really big hourly wages to really create an equal playing field in all of our shops and for all of our employees. And then we announced what everybody makes.

Because of the work the company has done to ensure equality, and asking staff for feedback before going pay transparent, Neitzel doesn’t anticipate a big stir or many people asking for raises.

“Nobody said ‘please don’t do this.’ I got quite a bit of feedback that said ‘wow, this is exciting.'”

If pay transparency is successful at Molly Moon’s, Neitzel hopes to encourage other local small businesses and companies to follow in their footsteps.

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