A business owner is going viral after breaking down the “universal” salary she pays her employees.
In early April, Madeline Pendleton (@madeline_pendleton) posted a TikTok that got plenty of viewers talking. In it, she broke down how — and why — she pays every one of her employees the same salary, including herself.
Pendleton begins her clip by emphasizing that “any” company could follow her model “without having to spend more money.”
“It’s just income redistribution,” she says.
She goes on to show that in 2020, the average CEO at a top-350 U.S. firm made $24.2 million, which is over 351 times more than the average American worker. Pendleton’s suggestion is to eliminate that disparity completely by paying a “universal wage.”
“You just take everybody’s salary in the whole place, and then you average them out among the number of workers you have,” she says.
Pendleton’s business has $730,000 in total payroll costs per year, which she breaks down evenly between herself and her nine other full-time staff members. However, as she shows, she could be making over six times that much.
As an experiment, Pendleton demonstrates what would happen if she paid her nine employees $16 per hour, which will soon be the minimum wage in Los Angeles. Those employees would make slightly over $33,000 a year, while she made over $430,000.
This disparity, she points out, only gets wider at bigger companies.
“It’s ridiculous,” she says. “This is what those CEOs are doing, so they can make that $24 million a year while you guys make like $30K or whatever.”
The point goes beyond massive companies. As of 2022, the median salary of a CEO at any U.S. company was $790,418. That includes huge firms and small businesses like Pendleton’s.
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Many commenters praised Pendleton’s policy.
“This is EXACTLY how you do it!” one user wrote.
“As a manager, I’m for it. Guarantee you my CEO’s not though,” another added.
“So much love for you!” another wrote.
Others questioned the policy’s limitations. Some wondered how an evenly split income could work in other fields, where experience or education differs more vastly.
“So at the hospital, the doctors should make the same as the janitor?” one user asked.
“Not everybody deserves the same pay. You get paid what you bring to the table,” another agreed.
Still, some were just glad to see a business owner being transparent about her finances.
In that sense, Pendleton’s video follows a larger trend on TikTok, where users have been sharing their salaries and earnings across many fields. TikTokers have recently revealed how much they make working at Hooters, at Waffle House and even as NFL water boys.
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