“Transparency” is a very buzzy word in the coffee world, though it has by and large only been used in reference to coffee production; we want to know what farmers were paid for their work, or at the very least that they were paid fairly. And now, the desire for transparency is being brought to the cafe level thanks to a host of crowdsourced, publicly-accessible barista wage surveys.
The original survey was created by an anonymous coffee professional in Philadelphia, per the Philadelphia Inquirer, who was inspired by a similar document started for museum workers by a Philadelphia Museum of Art curator. Since its creation, the Philadelphia barista wage survey has amassed nearly 200 entries and has spurred the creation of likeminded questionnaires around the country. As of press time, a total of 16 other surveys have cropped up across the United States, totaling 765 total responses, including Philly’s. The participating cities are:
Colorado Springs, CO
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
New Haven, CT
New York City, NY
The growing conversation about wage transparency in coffee is great, but how come none of these polls ask about race/gender/sex orientation? Because if the goal is to also shed light on THAT discrepancy, none of these polls as they currently stand will achieve that. 🤷🏾♀️
— boo bitch (@meeshal) October 10, 2019
A handful of the surveys—Austin, Boston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, New York City, Portland, Southeast Michigan, and Washington, DC—now have at least one question to this end, some added in response to criticism and some, like Austin and DC, included in their original releases.
Pay secrecy is not relegated simply to the coffee industry, it’s common in the American workforce. Speaking openly about wages can be seen as anything from unprofessional to “against company policy” to even a (very illegal) fireable offense. And not to let my pinko roots show too much here, but pay secrecy is only a benefit to the employer; workers are never benefitted by ignorance of where their compensation stands relative to their peers.
Knowing the wages of fellow coffee professionals is the first step in fighting for pay equality. It is the ammunition needed to engage in otherwise difficult discussions with management about deserved and fair pay increases. If you haven’t yet, take a second and fill out the wage survey for your neck of the woods. And if you don’t see your city listed, make a survey of your own! You’ve got 17 templates to build from.