Baristas all over the United States have taken to an anonymous Google spreadsheet to compare their salaries. The spreadsheet originated in Philadelphia and contains information on workers’ wages, benefits, tips, years of experience, among other details. Hundreds of coffee shop employees have filled it out with their often-low wages. It has opened the discussion around wages that various baristas are earning, since they vary vastly from company to company.
Kevin Leal, a Manhattan coffee shop educator, believes all barista jobs should start at $16 per hour before tips. Among the list of coffee shops on this spreadsheet was a previous employer of Leal’s. The entry claimed this barista was making a full dollar less than Leal was during his time there.
Crowdsourcing the type of information correlated with the spreadsheet allows open conversations to emerge on how coffee workers can achieve fair wages and viable jobs in the future, especially since artisan coffee could potentially allow for employees to pursue life-long careers.
In the meantime, coffee-industry careers are not livable for many. Many wages also do not reflect professional experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average for baristas is only $11.17 an hour. Baristas all across the country have organized walkouts, protests, and union drives in response to what they view as power imbalances and low pay.
As more surveys and spreadsheets emerge, coffee owners are working for healthier work environments and better relationships between staff and management. And sharing wages is not a new idea: there is Glassdoor, the Adjunct Project, and many other resources to compare salaries. However, sharing wages allows for possible bargaining for higher hourly rates, and helps in the fight against pay-discrimination.
Employers of other industries should look to coffee owners as setting the example for improving work environments and wages for employees.
Now is the time to join the movement if you haven’t already as pay equity issues are continuing on both a state and federal level. Employers are encouraged to take a proactive approach to the situation by undergoing a pay equity audit.
A comprehensive proactive pay equity audit is the best place to start to understand what your company is doing right, and where it can improve, before regulatory investigations, employee lawsuits and investor actions that require you to provide this information.
Learn how a pay equity audit has affected other organizations in a report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, done in association with Trusaic by clicking here.