Tipping Policies to Promote Equity

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Sharing to strengthen our organizational practices

Sharing to strengthen our organizational practices

By Kindle Fahlenkamp-Morell

As part of our work with the Equitable Evaluation Initiative, we examined how our work as evaluators and our personal experiences promote or obstruct equity. We built on this work internally with an Equity Learning Club. Our goals were to:

  1. Build personal awareness of inequities and the professional implications of inequities in evaluation.

  2. Identify small ways Vantage can shift our work to avoid perpetuating inequities.

  3. Test ways to use readings and conversations inside an evaluation firm to achieve goals one and two (contribute to the field).

You can learn about some of the ways we’ve used these conversations to advance equity in our professional practice from previous blog posts. But with conference season upon us, we wanted to share one of the small ways we have shifted our organizational practices to counter implicit bias: tipping.

We know that tipping is rooted in slavery and promotes inequities. Employees in service industries are paid low wages, with employers arguing that this is acceptable because workers make up the difference in tips. On top of that, service industry workers are predominantly people of color, specifically women of color. Many of the resources we found on tipping actually advocate for eliminating tipping altogether so that service industries would have to pay a living wage.

But we’re not there yet. If we stop tipping before employees get livable wages, we’re only punishing people who are already under-resourced. There’s also the confounding factor that each of us has implicit biases that influence our tipping behavior, resulting in people of color receiving lower tips than their white peers. So this is what we came up with.

Vantage Evaluation’s Tipping Policy

As part of our equitable evaluation work, we want to eliminate implicit bias in tipping on company purchases. We follow these guidelines:



Meal (with or without alcohol)

20% of bill before tax (rounding to an even amount is ok, just get near 20%)

  • Even if service is not good
  • Do not leave an additional tip if a gratuity or a service fee is already included


10% of bill
If you are squatting at a coffee shop, 20% of bill


15% of bill (rounding to an even amount is ok, just get near 15%)

Hotel Room

$3 per night

  • Leave on nightstand/dresser daily
  • Leave a thank you note (not necessarily fancy, just write thank you on the notepad with the cash)
  • (If you aren’t having the room serviced, skip the tip that day but leave $5 on the last day)

Alcohol (without food)

$1 per drink

Bag Check

$1 per bag when you pick it up

Valet Parking

$2 upon car retrieval

Hotel/Airport Courtesy Shuttle

$1 per person
Add an extra $1 if they help with your bag


Kindle Morell | Chief Communications Officer

Kindle excels at developing innovative communications strategies that move insights to action.

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