Portland boss takes cut to make equal pay a reality


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At a time when a boss could be making up to several hundred times more than his or her employees, one small business owner decided he was going to get paid the same.

Guerilla Development founder and CEO Kevin Cavenaugh. (KOIN) 

Kevin Cavenaugh owns Guerrilla Development, a small company in Northeast Portland.

“Yeah, I’m the boss,” Cavenaugh said. “That implies I have some power or control. No one really listens to me. Because everyone here is smarter than me, which is the best kind of company.” 

Unsettled by how much more CEOs and founders make than their employees, Cavanaugh decided Guerrilla’s six employees — including himself — would all make the same amount. 

Employees at Guerilla Development in Portland all make the same salary, including their boss. (KOIN) 

“I just realized that I don’t have to play by the rules,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

So for about a year, the whole team has been getting the same paycheck — regardless of their position and seniority. 

“How do you feel about someone sitting two desks over that was here for a year, you’ve been here for five years, making the same as you?” Cavenaugh said. “Is that fair? Interesting conversation.”

An uncomfortable conversation he thought was worth having.

“We have this other thing in our company that every year, you get a share and that becomes really valuable over time and that kind of helped,” Cavenaugh said. 

But he wanted to try something and in one fell swoop, equalized the boss to employee ratio and took care of the gender pay gap.

“It’s a six-person company. I just pay us all the same and instantly I’ve fixed it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what role you have in the company, everyone gets the same.” 

He wouldn’t share what the salary is and he’s not sure how it’s all going to play out.

“I don’t know if it’s going to work,” he said. “It’s an experiment. Talk to me in a year.” 

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