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When a CEO realized many of his employees were on food stamps, he made a change to their paychecks.

He didn't do it purely out of the goodness of his heart, but it's still a big deal.

When a CEO realized many of his employees were on food stamps, he made a change to their paychecks.

Let's be real. Health insurance companies are notoriously stingy.


"What do you mean you'll only pay for $2.79 of my $473,000 gum surgery?!"

But at least one big health insurer is fighting that reputation, at least where its employees are concerned.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini was shocked to learn that many workers in the company's call centers made so little money they rely on food stamps and Medicaid to get by, according to an NPR report.

Rather than let them continue to struggle, he decided to do something about it.

The Aetna CEO raised the salaries of all of his lowest-paid employees to $16/hr.

Bertolini didn't just do this out of the goodness of his heart.

He did it because it made good economic sense.

The cost of raising the wages for Aetna's lowest-paid workers is significant, even for a massive corporation:

"[Aetna CEO Mark] Bertolini ... discovered the cost of boosting compensation for his low-paid workers would be significant — about $27 million a year."

But, when you look at the company's long-term financial future, it turns out paying that $27 million a year is totally worth it.

"But he also found that research shows there are costs associated with paying low wages. Low-paid workers quit more often, and the turnover is expensive. There's also evidence higher-paid employees provide better customer service. Bertolini thought the potential benefits could offset the $27 million cost and improve his company's profits in the long run." — John Ydste, NPR

At a time when worker productivity is rising faster than wages, and workers across America are walking off the job to call for a $15/hr minimum wage, a move like this is a pretty big deal.

Paying employees a living wage is also part of a larger trend.

Not sure I need that giant bag of tilapia, but it's only $3.99!

Just a few weeks ago, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price announced that he was taking a pay cut and raising starting salary at the company to $70,000/year.

And thriving companies like Costco and The Container Store already pay their retail workers far higher average salaries than the industry standard on the theory that higher wages lead to greater productivity and better employee retention.

We shouldn't wait for more companies to do this voluntarily.

It's important to keep pushing for higher, fairer wages for employees across all industries. A $15/hr minimum wage should be the absolute baseline.

In the meantime, it's great that more and more corporations are realizing that treating your employees with dignity and respect — and paying them accordingly — is not just more ethical.

It's also good for business.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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