When the French tire maker Michelin closed its factories during the coronavirus pandemic, Florent Menegaux, the company’s chief executive, took stock of the closures’ impact on employees worldwide. Thousands of workers in Asia, Europe and the United States at the lower end of the company’s pay scales could barely get by, an independent review showed. Michelin vowed to do better.

Last week, the 134-year-old company, which has 132,000 workers at 131 factories in 26 countries, announced that it would guarantee all of its employees a “decent wage” wherever they were in the world, part of a broader social plan intended to ensure that none of its workers would have to struggle to make ends meet.

“If workers are just in survival mode, it’s a big problem,” Mr. Menegaux said in an interview. “When the wealth distribution in a company is too unequal, that’s a problem, too.”

The announcement quickly ignited a debate in

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