But Dr. Bronner’s activism doesn’t just benefit external parties. David and Michael have made their company a model of workplace equality. Employees’ health care is fully covered, and they can receive up to 25 percent of their salary as a bonus. In a country where the median CEO-to-worker pay ratio exceeds 300 to 1, David and Michael make roughly $200,000 a year. They’ve capped their salaries at five times that of their lowest-paid workers, who make a minimum wage of $18.71 an hour in a state, California, where the minimum wage for companies with 26 or more employees is $12.00 an hour. More than half of Dr. Bronner’s employees are women, and nearly 60 percent are people of color.
“We’re an activist company,” David tells me. “Our focus is mostly on trying to leverage our business to promote social change for the good.” Michael calls Dr. Bronner’s “a for-profit with the DNA of a nonprofit.” You can’t buy the physical product on the shelf without implicitly supporting “the mission-oriented side, the cause, the things that impact the vibe.” Dr. Bronner’s, in a nutshell, is about the overlapping areas — not, Michael corrects me, a dichotomy — of “soap and soul.”