After the social outbreak in Chile in October 2019, many Chilean businessmen started to devise ways to help the country and its businesses to successfully deal with the new conditions in the country. That’s when the 10x Challenge was born, an initiative that seeks to increase the lower salaries to reduce the compensation gaps within companies. To date, more than 1,500 companies have joined and over 40,000 workers have benefited from this initiative. We interviewed Cristián Mackenna, an entrepreneur who was one of the founders of this initiative.
How was the 10x Challenge born?
The social outbreak got us thinking a lot. I and the initiative’s other founders are all convinced that the private sector, and private companies, can be the main change agent to reduce inequalities. So we started with one of the most basic activities of a company, which is paying wages every month, and set out to show that companies can start reducing inequality well ahead of any public policies that may come.
What are the main changes that this initiative has sparked?
Beyond the 1,500 companies that have joined, and the 40,000 workers that have benefited, the great transformation is that companies are now asking themselves new questions, having conversations they did not have before. I used to ask corporate leaders, what was the ratio between the highest and lowest salary in their companies, and in many cases not only they didn’t know, some hadn’t even asked themselves the question. So, the scope of the 10x Challenge has gone far beyond its member companies, to many more businesses that are now thinking about this and other ways to make their companies less unequal and more human.
Is this initiative for small-scale entrepreneurs only, or does it appeal to larger companies?
We have established a mechanism that enables even large companies to participate, by voluntarily raising their minimum wage to approximately double the current minimum legal. While this may still imply a ratio higher than ten, we celebrate those companies who can commit to this and thus significantly contribute to a less unequal world.
How has the initiative evolved?
This started as a simple campaign, with no grand aspirations, but it caught on and soon we realised it could grow much larger. Now we are setting up a non-profit organisation that will be able to receive funding and donations to scale up the initiative significantly and permanently. We aim to have 10,000 member companies by the end of 2020.
How has the Covid-19 contingency affected the initiative?
Many companies are going through difficult times, and in this context, reducing the pay gap is even more challenging. But despite these difficulties, the motivation and commitment we continue to see are very inspiring. This initiative is voluntary; we understand that in some cases this might not be viable. But we think no jobs should be lost, and work to improve current jobs.
Cristián Mackenna, Founder, 10x Challenge