Check out these stories from people whose lives were changed for the better when employers determined to pay living wages, and from employers who realized the business benefits.

Want to engage? Share your own stories, or tell us about living wage employers in your community, by email or through social media @livingwageforus. As time goes on, we will share more stories, create short films, and curate your content to give the full picture of this living wage effort in action.

Aaron Seyedian of Well-Paid Maids

Washington D.C.

The cleaning service industry has a notoriously bad record when it comes to fair pay and treatment of its workers.  While that might turn off some entrepreneurs from getting into that line of work, Aaron Seyedian saw it as an opportunity to build a socially responsible business that demonstrates what is truly possible. He created Well-Paid Maids: a cleaning company that prides itself on providing a living wage and comprehensive benefits package to its employees.

And business is growing like gangbusters.  “People are drawn to the fact that we have a living wage business model and benefits package.  Based on the feedback I’ve received, our labor model is the reason why people are using our company.”

Before founding Well-Paid Maids, Aaron learned that there’s an untapped market of customers who were so turned off by the typical cleaning service’s labor practices that they had never considered using a cleaning service – until Well-Paid Maids arrived on the scene.

“Everybody is at a certain level of news and nonfiction consumption now that they know the cleaning industry is a nasty business.  So getting to own that part of the market is a huge benefit for me.”

Starting any new business – especially when you have no Yelp reviews or proven track record – can be a daunting task.  But because of  read more>>

Nishad Sayem of Well-Paid Maids

Washington D.C.

Sayem arrived in the US in 2005 from Bangladesh.  Tasked with supporting his family to pay the bills (his father is disabled and his mom can only work part-time due to injuries), he took a full-time job at a Subway restaurant for 4 years.  But this wasn’t enough to earn a living, so he took a second full-time job at another fast food establishment.  The pace was unsustainable and he was forced to quit one of the jobs.  The worst part of having two jobs, he says, besides having a meager income, was that he had no time to see his beloved family, who mean the world to him.

“I didn’t have the time to spend with them.  When I went to work they were sleeping.  When I came home, they were sleeping.  I never got a chance to talk to them.”

So, Sayem started looking around for another way to make money.  Ever since coming to the US, he had wanted to work in housekeeping.  When Well-Paid Maids hired him, his whole life changed. read more>>

Johanna Cruz of Well-Paid Maids

Washington D.C.

Cruz is originally from El Salvador, and has been living in the US since she was three.  Born deaf, she did very well in school throughout her life, but that didn’t translate into a well-paying job, as she had hoped.

“I went to school for many years because I wanted to earn a living wage, and I thought that to do that, I had to become educated.  I noticed that I was being offered jobs at a very, very low wage.  This was made worse because I was an immigrant and I was doing my best to navigate that system without working myself to death.”

It wasn’t just her deafness that kept a living wage at bay; she continued to bump up against all kinds of discrimination – because she’s female and an immigrant and a non-native English speaker.  No one would give her a chance until Well-Paid Maids, whom she says changed her life. read more>>