Righteous Gelato, the 2018 REAP Be Local Empowering Employees Leader Award Recipient

REAP stands for Respect for the Earth and All People. REAP is a not-for-profit association for locally owned businesses that care about the community and the environment.

REAP’s Annual Be Local Awards program is delivered in partnership with First Calgary Financial and recognizes excellence in our local economy by sharing the stories of the incredible work many companies and organizations are doing to support people and planet. Each year six leadership awards are presented.

The Empowering Employees Leader Award is presented by Vibrant Communities Calgary to a REAP member that is effecting meaningful and sustainable progress towards reducing poverty through employee-centered practices that build resilience. These may include but are not limited to paying a living wage, providing additional forms of compensation, financial literacy and employee wellness programs.

The 2018 Empowering Employees Leader Award recipient is Righteous Gelato.

Righteous Gelato received the most number of votes through a public engagement process on the BeLocal.org website that was live mid-September for six weeks.

Here’s an inside look into Righteous’s application to be this year’s Empowering Employees Leader Award recipient.

Click here to see a full copy of their application. Please note in 2020, Fiasco Gelato changed their name to Righteous Gelato Co.


What started as a small gelato shop in 2003, righteous Gelato has now quickly become the industry  leader in gelato and artisan ice cream not only for our commitment to the craft but also for our  approach to doing business differently.

Righteous’s unique flavour offerings, one of a kind packaging & passionate brand promise in building  something that matters is the steady foundation for creating a company that pushes the limits on  what it means to be an innovative culture and a steward for the environment and community.

Righteous’s leadership has been recognized as one of Canada’s fastest growing companies 3 years in a  row, was acknowledged as the 2014 Break out Business of The Year, and has received the nod for  several empowering community awards; not to mention we are a leading certified B Corp. In just  under four years of our first pint hitting grocers shelves, Righteous is now available in over 1600 retailers  across Canada.

The purpose driven team at Righteous stands by our mission to enrich people’s lives.

We just happen to do it by making gelato.

For the team at Righteous, paying a living wage stems from the core of who we are and where we have  come from. From day one, supporting the reduction of poverty in Calgary has been a major focus for  Righteous, not only through the organizations that we support in the community but internally through  the initiatives we take on as a company.

Having an engaged team allows us to fulfill our mission and our future. Ensuring basic needs are met  allows us to take care of each other; it ensures we are all able to focus not only on our roles and  results, but our own personal and professional development. Our team is empowered to thrive, and in  doing so we take care of each other so we can all take care of our fans, our community and our  environment.

We know that when a working person struggles to cover the cost of housing, food, healthcare,  childcare and other basic necessities for themselves and their families they will struggle with  absenteeism, poor health and morale as well. We know that providing a living wage, and the decent,  dignified lifestyle it affords, can pull working families out of poverty, benefiting themselves, our  business and the local economy.

It is imperative to us that our team members never have to face difficult choices such as buying food,  filling a prescription, or paying a utility bill. We know that paying a living wage lowers turnover,  recruiting and training costs, allowing us to invest more in our team’s personal and professional  development, recognition and other employee-focussed programs.

We feel that increased costs in providing a living wage are offset by higher team productivity, and  lowered training and administrative costs. As a result, we see an increased self-sufficiency and know  the local economy benefits from increased consumer spending and a reduced reliance on social  services.

Committed to empowering employees through ownership, transparency, paying a living wage and  supporting the community, Righteous has quickly became an industry leader.

One of the ways we cultivate empowerment is our flexible work environment. We have an “In Before  9” rule at our office which fosters togetherness, and you can leave whenever your work is done. We  are results focused, and don’t track time in or out of the office. We focus on work-life blend instead of  balance by not only allowing, but encouraging our team to integrate their personal lives with their  work lives. This can be seen in our work-from-home capabilities and “Righteous Rascals” (children of  employees) participating at events. By providing the appropriate tools, and trusting that our team  members are able to handle their own work schedules and accomplish results in a way that works for  them, we create so many opportunities for our team to achieve great success. We’re a company with  Team Leads instead of Managers , so employees are accountable to their peers and their pods (work  groups) rather than having their productivity and performance managed in a traditional sense. By  giving our employees autonomy over their work, schedules, and performance, opportunity is created  for our team regardless of their personalities or learning style.

Our “10 Things That Require Zero Talent” list is an example of how our hiring practices don’t require  team members to have a certain background or level of education, which can be limiting for many  populations. We believe that the right person can be taught all of the skills they need to be able to  perform a task, so we look for things like energy, attitude and passion (to name a few) from potential  hires, regardless of who they are or where they came from. As such, our team feel inherently valued  for who they are and are encouraged to be the full expression of themselves.

Our compensation model also speaks to the way we do things differently. Most businesses pay their  teams based on what they negotiate or how little they can get away with, and generally a veil of  secrecy that causes internal drama and conflict to arise. We got rid of all that with our Transparent  Salary Model, an easy to navigate equation that includes a base salary, loyalty multiplier, performance  matrix exponent (based on our 9-Level contribution chart) as well as low vs. high risk preference for  increase in salary vs. share options. With a commitment to equality in every nook and cranny of our  business, everyone knows where they stand, what possibility lies ahead, how to get there, and are  empowered to choose their own path.

Our profit sharing program is available to everyone who has been a full time member of the team for  6 months, and is awarded twice per year. This is calculated on a “net of net” measurement, and  distribution is based on loyalty, pod KPI performance, personal performance, and performance matrix  placement. Opening company profit to the team empowers everyone to take risks and encourages  innovative thinking, and the entire team benefits from the freedom and encouragement to take  initiative.

In 2017, Righteous introduced an Employee Share Option Plan (ESOP). Approved on a performance basis  and in line with the low vs high risk measurement on our salary calculator, options are available to  everyone after one year of loyalty, and the plan is built on a 3-year term with options vesting once a  year. The purpose of the ESOP is to truly enrich people’s lives. We want to encourage and develop the  interest of Optionees in the overall growth and development of Righteous by providing people with the  opportunity to acquire a proprietary interest in the company. This will closely align the personal  interests of our team with the success of Righteous, and allow us to attract, compensate, motivate and  retain the best people.


At Righetous we want our team to be their best selves. This year we are participating in the Virgin Pulse  Global Challenge – aimed at improving the health of our employees.

Teams of 7 have taken on a 100-Day challenge to encourage the development and sustainment of  healthy lifestyle habits, including being equipped with wearable devices to track steps and compete  against one another.

The Virgin Pulse Global challenge allows our teams to compete with hundreds of thousands of  participants around the world, taking them on a journey to improve both their physical and  psychological health. Before starting out on their journey, our team discovered a new awareness of  their health with the Global Challenges’ tailored online health assessment, empowering our team with  recommendations to support their progress.

Beyond the 100 days, the Global Challenge provides a 12-month platform to ensure that awareness,  education and motivation can continue throughout the year. After the first 100 days, our team will  have developed new habits in terms of exercise, improved diet and better sleeping patterns, and we  want them to continue their progress so they’ll receive monthly motivational emails, have ongoing  access to the flexible challenges and global community, and full use of the Global Challenge website  and apps for the remainder of the 12-month period.

For more information about Righteous Gelato, visit www.righteousgelato.com. For more information about REAP, visit www.belocal.org.

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