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Molly Moon’s Announces Wage Transparency on Equal Pay Day

The popular ice cream chain is trying to address the gender wage gap

Owner Molly Moon Neitzel.
Molly Moon Homemade Ice Cream Shop founder Molly Moon Neitzel announced that the chain will be wage transparent.
Courtesy of Molly Moon’s

Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop — the popular ice cream chain with seven locations across the Seattle area — announced on Tuesday that it has become 100% “pay transparent.” That means all the company’s employees will now have access to detailed information on what their colleagues are making, a step meant to address a stagnant gender pay gap. Nationally, it’s been reported that working women make an average of $0.80 to a man’s $1.00, and that number drops to $0.78 in Washington State. But even those stats don’t paint a full enough picture: For women of color, the numbers are much lower. And traditional measures of the pay gap “leaves out women who have dropped out of the labor force temporarily, often to care for family,” reports Vox.

In the dining and hospitality industry, the disparity is just as troubling. According to a Gecko Hospitality survey released in 2018, men earn an average of $4,728 per year more than women in the industry and have a consistently higher starting salary in most positions. And a 2015 report from Restaurant Opportunities Center United found that, though over 66% of tipped workers are female, most of the highest paid front-of-the-house jobs in fine-dining establishments are occupied by white men. Meanwhile, women of color in the industry are the lowest paid overall in California.

Molly Moon’s statement was timed to Tuesday’s Equal Pay Day, marking the day when women’s wages catches up to men’s from the prior year. But it also sparks a conversation at a time when the industry has come under fire for shady wage practices in general, including not paying overtime for workers and skimping on meal breaks.

Here in Seattle, the Melting Pot is currently facing a lawsuit from employees who claim the restaurant chain paid well below the city’s minimum wage, even as it charged customers an extra surcharge for the recent minimum wage hike. Melting Pot, however, has denied the allegations.

“A lot of the benefits of wage transparency to Molly Moon’s will be kind of inspirational,” Molly Moon’s founder Molly Moon Neitzel told Seattle Business magazine. “Honestly, employees who make $18 to $24 an hour will see the wages of their boss, and their boss’ boss, and see you can have a real career in an ice cream shop and make good money.”

The move by Molly Moon’s is not out of line for the dessert brand, as it has long made social justice causes an integral part of its mission. But hopefully more establishments will follow Molly Moon’s lead in addressing the labor issues that have plagued the industry for far too long.

NOTE: This article was updated to provide more context around the gender pay gap numbers.