Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about Wagemark? We’ve supplied answers to our top questions below. Plus you can send your questions to

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 become Wagemark-certified?

Organizations adopt Wagemark certification to publicly demonstrate their commitment to paying competitive, responsible and sustainable wages. Wagemark certification 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.

Why is 8:1 the maximum ratio Wagemark will certify?

The Wagemark ratio is intended as an ambitious but not unattainable goal for many organizations. We agree there is plenty of room for debate as to whether the ratio should be set higher or lower. Ultimately, we chose an 8:1 ratio based on past precedents as well as recent research concerning optimal wage structures within organizations. We may from time to time revise this maximum either upwards or downwards based on the feedback we receive from our registered users and other experts.

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 highest reported company pay ratio for the 2012 fiscal year, held by JC
Penney Co., was 1,795:1.

Bloomberg reports that Fortune 500 CEOs earn, on average, 204 times that of their typical employee. That figure is up from 120-to-1 in 2000, 42-to-1 in 1980 and 20-to-1 in 1950.

Research from UK think tank High Pay Centre reports that 14.5 percent of the UK national income goes to the top one percent of earners, up from six percent in 1979. On the opposite end of the spectrum are 6.75 million workers who earn under £800 a month.

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

Ask your Chief Financial Officer to review and start the Wagemark registration process. The registration process requires your organization to have an chartered accountant or auditor complete the Wagemark certification report, confirming that your organization meets the Wagemark Standard. Once registered, you are entitled to use the Wagemark Wordmark and Ratiomark on your website, products and documents.

How long does Wagemark registration last?

Your Wagemark registration is valid for one year. Your organization must re-certify and renew its registration each year. The renewal process requires an organization to have their chartered accountant or auditor certify a new Wagemark license agreement to indicate that the organization continues to meet the Wagemark standard.

How do companies begin the certification process?

Wagemark candidate organizations begin the certification process by downloading the Wagemark Certification and Registration Guide found here.

How long does the certification process take?

After a Wagemark candidate organization completes online registration, pays the annual registration fee, and submits the Wagemark certification form (as verified by a third-party accountant or auditor), that organization will then be considered Wagemark-certified and entered in the public database of Wagemark-certified organizations.

How much does it cost to register with Wagemark?

The registration fee for corporations, non-profit organizations and government agencies with revenues greater than $2 million is $200 per year. The fee for organizations with revenues less than $2 million is $100 per year.

What is the annual registry fee used for?

The registration fee funds the work of the Wagemark Foundation. This includes maintaining the members registry, updating and developing new licensing agreements, and funding original research and events concerning the use of responsible wage standard that enhance competitiveness and social sustainability. For more detail, feel free to take a look at our accounts.

Does Wagemark keep credit card data on file?

Wagemark does not require that credit card information be submitted at any part of the certification process.

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 does the Wagemark Foundation verify compliance?

The Wagemark Foundation does not verify compliance. Instead, registered Wagemark organizations invite an independent chartered accountant or auditor to certify their Wagemark license agreement to indicate that their organization meets the Wagemark standard. This certified license must appear on the organization’s website, and be included as an appendix-item in their year-end financial report. Under no circumstances is a registered Wagemark organization required to disclose their pay structure or wage distribution to anyone other than their certifying accountant or auditor.

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.

Why require that the Wagemark license agreement be included in the organization’s annual report?

We expect that organizations participating in Wagemark will be proud to publicly demonstrate their commitment to paying competitive, responsible and sustainable wages. As a result, we expect that these organizations share the license agreement in their annual report in the same way that many share the other efforts that they are taking to make their organizations more responsible, including supporting charities and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

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

No. Under no circumstances is a registered Wagemark organization required to disclose their pay structure, wage distribution or specific salaries to anyone other than their certifying accountant or auditor.

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.