580. This is the number of times you have to multiply the lowest paid McDonald’s employee salary in order to arrive at the CEO’s salary. Twenty years ago, that number was 230.

Reading this article from a few weeks ago in Bloomberg was distressing to say the least and really highlights the day-to-day impacts of the pay disparity between the highest and lowest earners in the fast food industry and beyond.

When forming Seventh Generation 25 years ago, we made a decision that the highest paid employee would never be paid more than 17 times the lowest paid employee. How a company treats it’s employees is the ultimate test of a responsible company. 580 is unacceptable. As more and more responsible businesses emerge, the leading issue that needs to be addressed is employee treatment –  after all, the more successful and fulfilled the employees are, the more successful the company as a whole.


  1. Elizabeth Krueger /

    Such ratios are not always easy to figure, but should be standard in evaluating companies. I am guessing that the CEO is not actually 580 times more valuable than the people serving food to customers.

  2. Jeffrey, this “17 times” ratio puzzled me the first time you mentioned it, and it puzzles me still. What was the rationale for it being 17 and not 16 or 18, or just 4,5 ? Seriously… I am not questioning the fairness of this ratio – I am just groping for the logic that made you to choose number 17… Was the core of that logic the need to reward the skill or management hierarchy that was expected to be 17-levels high? Was it the number that looked rewarding enough for the owner(s) for taking all the risk and yet not obscene to the people at the bottom who haven’t yet put in either time or capital to deserve larger payout for their work? Something else?

    If you could be kind enough to explain (however briefly), I’d appreciate it very much.


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