Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about Wagemark? We’ve supplied answers to our top questions below. You can also send questions to admin@wagemark.org.


Who is Wagemark?

The Wagemark Foundation is the administrative and funding body of the Wagemark Standard and Global Registry. The Wagemark Foundation aims to advance the Wagemark Standard as a leading international wage certification system to encourage fair, sustainable business practices within and across organizations.

When did Wagemark start?

The Wagemark Standard and Global Registry launched under the Wagemark Foundation in 2013.

What problem is Wagemark trying to solve?

The Wagemark Standard was developed to address the widening income gap between top and bottom earners which, in addition to undermining smart and sustainable business practices, has proven detrimental to economic growth and the existence of a healthy middle-income population.

Why do organizations register with Wagemark?

Organizations register with Wagemark to publicly demonstrate their commitment to paying competitive, responsible and sustainable wages. Wagemark registration boosts morale and improves organizational transparency concerning compensation practices.

Is there anything else like Wagemark around?

Wagemark is the first voluntary, wage-responsible business certification standard of its kind. The idea behind Wagemark, however, is nothing new. A history of wage ratios in theory and practice can be found here.

And, thanks to a recent decision by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, many publicly-traded companies operating in the US will have to disclose their ratio of CEO to worker pay beginning in 2017.

What is currently a typical pay ratio in a large company?

Reported company pay ratios vary widely. According to analysis of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, the average CEO made 216 times more than the median employees at their companies in 2015, let alone the lowest paid.

In some cases, the gap was substantially larger. Nine US CEOs were paid 800 times or more than the average worker at their companies.

However, the ratio varies dramatically by country. In 2014, the average ratio in Japan was 67:1, and in Norway 58:1.

What does my organization need to do to use the Wagemark?

To register, simply follow the step by step instructions found in our registration guide. You’ll need to calculate your company’s wage ratio to confirm that your organization meets the Wagemark Standard, and fill out our online application. This takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Once registered, you are entitled to use the Wagemark Wordmark and Ratiomark on your website, products and documents.

Will Wagemark release my email address or contact information to third-parties?

No. The Wagemark Foundation will not, under any circumstances, release participating organizations’ contact information to third-parties without prior consent.

How do I know when a company is Wagemark certified?

Wagemark-certified organizations are required to post their Wagemark licensing agreement on their website, and include it as an appendix item in their year-end financial report. Wagemark-certified organizations can also be identified by the presence of the Wagemark Symbol.

How do I know a company is continuing to comply with the Wagemark guidelines after being certified?

Wagemark-certified organizations must re-apply for certification on an annual basis, which encourages ongoing adherence to the Wagemark Standard.

Are Wagemark-registered organizations required to disclose their pay structure?

No. Under no circumstances is a registered Wagemark organization required to disclose its pay structure, wage distribution, or specific salaries to anyone other than their certifying accountant or auditor. Wagemark is concerned with the ratio of CEO to worker pay, not with the actual amounts involved in compensation.

What is the relationship between Wagemark and minimum wage standards?

Wagemark-certification is based on the wage ratio between the top and bottom decile of earners within an organization and is unrelated to minimum wage standards. The Wagemark Standard is based on the relative wage range between earners, rather than a specified minimum or maximum. If the bottom decile of earners within an organization are paid the minimum statutory wage applicable in a jurisdiction, then the top paid employee at the same organization could earn no more than eight times the minimum wage.

What is the difference between Wagemark and either a statutory or voluntary maximum wage?

Wagemark is a voluntary wage standard based on the ratio between a single top earner and the average earnings of the bottom decile. It differs from a legislated maximum wage because Wagemark is voluntary. It differs from a voluntary maximum wage, which would see organizations choose to cap compensation (as is done in many public  sector organizations), because Wagemark allows organizations to pay their top earner as much as they please so long as they also pay their bottom decile of earners a proportionate share that does not exceed eight times the income paid to the highest earner.

Why is the Wagemark standard based on a single top earner rather than the top decile?

An organization’s top earner is often paid considerably more than even their colleagues in the top decile. Wagemark is a standard based on comparing the top to the bottom decile of earners within an organization because this measurement better illustrates the true extent of the gap between earners at both ends of an organization’s pay scale.

Why is the Wagemark standard based on a bottom decile rather than a median?

There are many ways to understand the wage structure of an organization. Both top-to-median and top-to-bottom decile ratios can help gauge the degree of wage disparity within an organization. Wagemark is a standard based on comparing the top to the bottom decile of earners within an organization because this measurement better illustrates the true extent of the gap between earners at both ends of an organization’s pay scale.

Does Wagemark support other ethical business practices beyond just pay?

While the Wagemark Foundation advocates for fair, competitive and sustainable business practices, the Wagemark Standard is solely a measure of organizational wage ratios. However, the Wagemark Foundation aims to support ethical, innovative, competitive markets by funding and circulating research concerned with a variety of issues related to equality and socially just commerce.