We envision a city where businesses and workers thrive.

Our Mission

Our Mission

The Good Wages Initiative certifies and promotes employers paying living wages, and supports those interested in achieving certification.


Our Start

Our Start

“Why does Indianapolis still have so many people who rely on food pantries?” This was the root question a group of volunteers wrestled with. Despite hunger alleviation efforts, free food via pantries has remained essential because low-wage workers must use their earnings for rent, utilities and other needs, leaving them dependent on food distribution programs.  In other words, these workers didn’t earn wages that cover basic needs: living wages.

Inspired by living wage certification programs in North Carolina and Ithaca, New York, Indianapolis’ Good Wages Initiative emerged in order to showcase employers paying living wages and support more employers in doing so. EmployIndy came alongside the Good Wages Initiative as an integral partner based on their commitment to the area’s workforce ecosystem and residents. A Lilly Endowment grant to EmployIndy is supporting the launch of the Good Wages Initiative.

Our Focus: $18

Our Focus: $18

In 2018, Brookings worked with the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership to produce a report examining Central Indiana’s economic future. Advancing opportunity in Central Indiana outlines numerous ways for the area to improve its trajectory through the availability of more good and promising jobs that pay living wages. Their research determined $18/hour to be the general living wage for the area (i.e., not specific to any one household configuration).

Read the report

Raising wages has a cost.
Not raising wages may cost more.

The Impact of Good Wages

  • On Businesses

    By paying good wages, studies have found numerous benefits to employers, all of which benefit the bottom line.


    Decreased turnover
    Improved productivity
    Less absenteeism
  • On Workers

    When workers earn the money necessary for household necessities, the whole family benefits.

    Better physical and mental health
    High life expectancy
    Improved educational outcomes for children
  • On Racial Equity

    Paying sustaining wages can especially benefit Black workers, who make up a disproportionately large percentage of the low-wage workforce.

    Close the current wage gap. Black workers earn 30% less than White workers.
    Increase home ownership and wealth. Black residents are half as likely to own homes.
What's the consumer perspective?

What's the consumer perspective?

Employee wages matter

71% of consumers indicate that they would prefer to buy from a business paying higher – rather than lower – wages

Values matter

40% of shoppers are “purpose-driven” and want spend with companies that mirror their values

Equity matters

84% of Americans feel that companies should pay living wages as part of addressing racial diversity, equity and inclusion



When I made $12-13/hour, I remember the stress of being sick, going to the doctor, and having $100 or so of unplanned expenses from that. I always thought about money in terms of hours of work. Getting sick would take up 10 hours of my pay. Rarely could I pay all the bills - I had to keep choosing what to pay.

Now, I'm making $18/hour and there is so much less stress. It's so relieving. But I'm still dealing with the $10,000 loan I took out for college. I've been paying about $100/mo since 2014.

Even though I'm doing better, debt and financial limitations are like a storm cloud following you. You think you're getting out from under it, but it keeps following.

Life expectancy

Life expectancy

Moving south on the Monon Trail from 96th Street to 10th Street, life expectancy drops 14 years.

Little chance for moving up

Little chance for moving up

Children growing up poor in Indianapolis have some of the lowest chances for earning more than their parents.

Out of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country, Indianapolis ranks 90th for intergenerational economic mobility.


Stuck wages

Stuck wages

Between 2006-2016, Central Indiana employers increased wages by half that of peers elsewhere in the country.

Our whitepaper: The case for paying living wages in Indianapolis