About the Wagemark Standard

Wagemark is a new international wage standard used by companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to certify that the ratio between their highest and lowest earners is competitive and sustainable. Wagemark Certification is open to organizations that meet the 8:1 Wagemark Standard and is verified annually. Certification is a mark of distinction for leaders that are creating a fair and prosperous economy. Wagemark Registration is open to all organizations and signals a commitment to transparency and fair wage practices.

The Wagemark Standard builds on an important and growing body of research concerning the economic and social costs of income inequality and makes it possible for organizations to respond constructively by committing to operate within a wage range that supports greater competitiveness, workplace morale and social equity.

Compliance with the Wagemark Standard is certified by the applicant’s preferred chartered accountant or auditor, and does not require the disclosure of either maximum or minimum earnings — only the wage ratio between the top and average earnings of the bottom decile of earners within an organization.


It doesn’t take a revolution. Read “A gentle manifesto for Wagemark”

In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in 1977 entitled “Is Executive Pay Excessive?” management guru Peter F. Drucker decried the corrosive effect of the widely held belief that top business executives commonly enjoy lavish salaries, jerry-rigged with every manner of tax loophole, that are on the order of fifty times greater than that of the average worker. Never mind, Drucker pointed out, that such dramatic income disparities apply only to a tiny and economically insignificant cadre of top executives; the very idea of such gross inequalities damages morale and undermines the kind of social cohesion that makes for healthy and competitive companies…More


The simple math behind the Wagemark Standard

The Wagemark Standard is based on a formula for calculating the ratio between top and bottom earners within an organization. The standard compares the total earnings of the highest paid employee with the average pay of the bottom decile of earners within an organization. This decile is based on the proportion of full-time and part-time employees within the organization. Earnings include all tax-reported income and benefits. Wagemark Certified organizations must achieve an 8:1 or better wage ratio. Read our certification guide


Wagemark Certified

Wagemark Certification is open to organizations that meet the 8:1 Wagemark Standard and is verified annually. Certification is a mark of distinction for leaders that are creating a fair and prosperous economy.

Certification costs $200 per year, and requires the assistance of a chartered accountant or auditor. Please see the Certification Guide for more information. Wagemark Certified organizations:

  • Enjoy the use of the Wagemark logo and applicable Ratiomark
  • Appear on the Wagemark global registry
  • Satisfy public wage ratio disclosure requirements
  • Receive access to promotional materials and additional support

Wagemark Registered

Wagemark Registration is open to all organizations and signals a commitment to transparency and fair wage practices.

Registration is free and can be completed online. Wagemark Registered organizations:

  • Enjoy the use of the Wagemark logo
  • Appear on the Wagemark global registry
  • Satisfy public wage ratio disclosure requirements

History of Wage Ratios

The idea behind Wagemark isn’t new: management theorist Peter Drucker wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 1977 that a compensation standard that ensured executives earned a fixed maximum multiple of their lowest-paid full-time employee’s wage would be “the most radical but also the most necessary innovation” for modern business.

Inspired by Drucker’s vision, the Wagemark Standard was developed as an ambitious, intuitive and achievable target for most businesses, governments and non-profits. Below we’ve compiled a brief timeline of important events in the history of wage ratios.

400 BC:

Plato recommends that the incomes of the wealthiest Athenian residents never exceed five times those of its poorest residents.

Late 1800s:

Witnessing firsthand the social and competitive consequences of growing wage differentials, American robber baron J.P. Morgan argues for a wage cap of 20:1.

1950s:

Spain’s famed famed Mondragon Co-Operative Corporation is established. It will grow to employ nearly 84,000 people across 256 companies while adhering to a 6:1 maximum wage ratio.

1970s:

Modern business management theorist Peter Drucker pens a Wall Street Journal op-ed that deems wage ratios “the most radical but also the most necessary innovation” in corporate policy and recommends a 15:1 maximum.

1970s:

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream adopts a 5:1 ratio policy which the company will maintain for the next two decades until it is sold to Unilever.

1980s:

Brazil’s SEMCO SA is formed. To date, the company maintains a 10:1 wage ratio while employing more than 3,000 workers across a range of industries.

1990s:

Whole Foods Market sets a pay limit of 8:1, the current Wagemark maximum. As Whole Foods grows to become a multi-billion dollar company, that ratio will gradually shift upwards, though the policy is maintained.

2010:

David Cameron proposes a fixed 20:1 wage ratio for the UK public service and commissions the Hutton Review of Fair Pay, which concludes that organizations delivering public services should track, publish and explain their pay multiples over time.

2010:

The landmark US Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) becomes the first US statute to require publicly-traded companies to report both the income of their chief executive as well as the median employee income for the corporation (though Intense lobbying by the US Chamber of Commerce and other business associations has delayed its enforcement.)

2013:

Wagemark Foundation established.

2013:

Two thirds of Swiss voters reject a proposal to adopt a 12:1 national wage ratio – the first public debate of its kind.