Iconic Company's CEO Makes Just 5 Times The Lowest Paid Employee Salary & Donates The Rest To Charity

Capping how much top officers can be paid also allows the company to provide better benefits for employees.

happy workforce skynesher / Getty Images Signature / Canva Pro

Greed is and always has been king in American business — that's capitalism, baby. But there are a small handful of companies that take a more forward-thinking view that values fairness, taking care of employees, and charitable giving above giving fat cats gazillion-dollar salaries and bonuses.

It turns out that iconic soap company Dr. Bronner's is one of them, and their approach provides a model for how other companies can do things differently than the status quo.


Dr. Bronner's CEO salary cap ensures that top executives make no more than five times the lowest-paid employee.

Dr. Bronner's has long been the quirky favorite soap company of hippies and homemakers alike. It is renowned for its litany of uses that extend far beyond the shower, and the company and its founder's idiosyncratic history is as unique as its products.

RELATED: Billionaire CEO Gives Graduates From One College $1000 Each— But The Money Came With A Catch


So it's perhaps no surprise that when it comes to the nuts and bolts of running the business, the family-owned company does things differently in the C-suite, too, starting with putting a ceiling on the pay of its highest officers.

In a social media video, the top executives of the company, Mike and David Bronner, brothers and grandsons of the company's founder, Emanuel Bronner, recently shared how their approach to pay works.

Mike and David have placed a limit on earnings, meaning the company's "top executives," themselves included, "will never make five times the lowest-paid, fully vested worker." At Bronner's, fully vested means five years of service.


Instead of pocketing the profits saved by the salary cap, Bronner's donates it to charitable causes.

"Most companies, they just eat all that extra profit right up with huge bonuses," David said in the video. We've all, of course, seen — and no doubt raged at — this trend myriad times over the years.

However, CEO salaries and bonuses have become particularly egregious in recent years. Amid skyrocketing inflation that should be making the cost of business more expensive, corporations have instead been price-gouging and using so-called "greedflation" to post record profits — and soaring CEO pay right along with it.

CEO pay, overall, rose 11.4% in 2023 to an all-time high of a median of $23.7 million, in fact, even as companies have supposedly been reeling because of record-breaking inflation in 2022.


Dr. Bronner's, however, isn't playing those games. David went on to lament these insane salaries and bonuses, along with "yachts and all kinds of crap" companies and CEOs spend money on when they "could be doing so much good in the world."

So they decided to "set an example of just being reasonable" when it comes to pay, benefits, and what they do with all the extra money they rake in.

RELATED: CEO Calls Workers His ‘True Family’ And Refers To Their Babies As ‘Future Employees’ But Offers No Paid Parental Leave Time

Dr. Bronner's said it is their "ethical" responsibility to pay fairly and use the rest of their profit for charity.

"An ethical company should pay a fair salary and good benefits and enable people to make ends meet on the wages they receive," David said. And Dr. Bronner's has put their money where their mouths are, if you will, paying a $27.28 starting wage for permanent employees.


Employees also receive up to 10% of their salary in bonuses and profit-sharing, free lunch each day, free Dr. Bronner's products, and, in a downright utopian move by American standards, up to $7500 a year in childcare assistance.

In an Instagram post, they shared that the company also pays 100% of employees' premiums on its deductible-free health insurance plan and offers other benefits like assistance with infertility treatments and even incentives to buy electric vehicles. 

@yourtango If you want to live like your parents did 40 years ago while making $30k annually, the salary you need to make in 2023 is utterly depressing. #inflation #boomer #salary #costofliving ♬ original sound - YourTango

You might be thinking that all these benefits are where all that would-be CEO pay is going, but the brothers said that is not the case — there's still a hefty surplus of profit each year. "Everything, in addition, goes to charity and the causes we support," David said, ranging from animal rights advocacy to criminal justice reform. And it still leaves him and Mike a handsome paycheck. "We live great, we live an awesome life," David said.


The company got some pushback on Instagram for their way of doing things — many felt that basing CEO pay on five-year vested employees rather than just the truly lowest-paid worker was a dodge in order to inflate Mike and David's pay instead of giving it to their workers.

Perhaps there's truth to that, but there's no denying that Dr. Bronner's is orders of magnitude above and beyond most companies on both pay, benefits, and philanthropy, and that's to be celebrated.


Insisting on infinite profit and gazillions of dollars in CEO pay is a choice, and Dr. Bronner's proves that making workers struggle to survive in order to accomplish those goals is a choice, too. Here's hoping more companies follow in Dr. Bronner's footsteps.

RELATED: Business Owner Explains How She Pays Everyone Who Works For Her The Same Salary Of $73K

John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.