So far in his time as chief executive officer, Jelinek has preserved Sinegal’s generous leadership strategy by prioritizing its people. “We just stayed to our principles. It’s what we do: take care of customers and employees and the people who are selling us merchandise,” he said in a Seattle Times interview (via Business Insider). In 2018, he had a reported base pay of $800,000 a year plus a $97,000 bonus. He netted another $6.3 million in stock awards.
The current minimum pay of a Costco employee is $16 per hour (via USA Today). “Since Costco’s inception, the company has been committed to paying the employees very competitive retail wages and providing them broad and affordable health care benefits,” Jelinek said in February 2021. “Two years ago we moved our starting hourly wage to $15 everywhere in the U.S.” More than 50 percent of U.S.-based Costco staffers earn more than $25 per hour, according to the CEO (via NBC News).
Costco even rewards hourly employees with regular bonuses and offers paid vacation time. “We try to take care of our employees because they play such a significant role in our success,” Jelinek said (via Deli Market News).
“This is not altruistic; this is good business,” Sinegal told The New York Times in 2005 regarding Costco’s wages and benefits plans. So, there you have it. Modest, progressive leaders running a company that treats its employees well. What a concept!