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Living wages: desirable, feasible, inevitable

Living wages: desirable, feasible, inevitable
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Jo Appleby, Impact’s Head of Partnerships, recently attended Living Wages: Desirable, Feasible, Inevitable an event hosted by KPMG, Global Compact UK Network and the Ethical Trading Initiative. She shares a few of her thoughts.

3 Things you may not know about Living Wages (a wage which is high enough to maintain a normal standard of living)
  1. The idea of The Living Wage was driven by CitizensUK and was a result of listening to the families and individuals living in East London, struggling to make ends meet, often working two jobs and having very little time to spend with their children and families
  2. Since 2001,1495 UK employers have signed up
  3. There are over 60 million workers globally living in a very poor social environment and extremely low wages (IndustriALL, 2015)
3 Things that need to happen if we are to make Living Wages a reality

Businesses need to collaborate across sectors and work in partnership with government and other agencies. It’s a long and difficult journey but an important one. It was great to see that the event was over subscribed and that participants were diverse, including corporate business, NGO’s, social enterprises, Charities and global Unions.

The right level of leadership along with responsible procurement processes is key. Several of the representatives at the event talked about the benefits of paying a living wage - labour productivity, pride in the organisation and alignment to values. It also provides an opportunity for businesses to look at their supply chain, influence and engage other organisations to implement a living wage for their employees and contractors.

There needs to be clarity over what a global living wage would be and do we need one? Whose responsibility is it? Multinational organisations, the ILO (International Labour Organisation), government, unions? If it is a combination of these, then that collaboration needs to be driven by someone. Is that the role of business?

Living wages have always been important for employees and wider society but now it’s moving up the agenda for businesses too. I think this is a positive step in the right

direction and I suspect many more businesses will be trying to implement living wages throughout their organisations and through their supply chain. Are you signed up?

Impact are proud to support Living Wages. In 2011 Impact brokered a relationship between Omnicom and CitizensUK. The initiative that the participants worked on was called the ‘Living wage Foundation’.

Omnicom participants on the Impact Leadership Programme were tasked to use their skills in marketing and communications to help the Foundation get off to a good start. They provided 10% of their time on this over a 6 week period. The project worked well, providing mutual benefit  - helping to achieve learning objectives for the participants and providing expertise for the partner.

Discover more information on our approach to Community Action Learning.