Celebrating living wage week
This post was created by Andy Rogers, HR Director for Sodexo UK and Ireland.
This week is the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage Week. The week provides an opportunity to celebrate the living wage movement and raise awareness of the benefits of the living wage to organisations and their employees.
Back in June we announced that Sodexo UK and Ireland was working with the Living Wage Foundation as a formally recognised service provider. This is one of 16 commitments we made as part of our Public Service Pledge, an ethical manifesto which is designed to help us contribute to achieving a fairer and better society.
Since making our living wage commitment we have implemented the UK and London Living Wage for all employees working in our head offices in London, Glasgow, Stevenage, Leeds, Salford and Swindon.
We have also started to work with our clients to raise awareness of the living wage and to implement it where possible. With the vast majority of our 34,000-strong workforce employed on client sites, it is vital that we work in partnership with our clients on this issue.
Some of our biggest contracts in the corporate and public sectors, such as GSK, Nestlé, the Scottish Parliament and UCL are living wage contracts. Whenever Sodexo is tendering for a new piece of business, or rebidding a contract, we now include a ‘living wage’ bid, in order to raise awareness with clients and prospective clients.
For many of our contracts, it simply isn’t viable to start paying the living wage over night, but it is important that as a ‘people’ business we take a proactive stance around talking to clients about pay and other measures to improve employees’ quality of life.
Adopting the living wage is one of several ways we can support employees who are in entry-level and lower-paid roles. We continue to put a significant focus on training, multi-skilling and providing promotion opportunities, to improve employability for those who are typically at the lower end of the wages scale and to provide a professional path to higher wages.
Additionally we focus on recognition, with awards schemes such as our Service Excellence Awards calling out and rewarding our best front-line staff. We have also created a new employee website to give customer-facing staff, who often don’t have a company email address, better access to information about job opportunities, training and benefits – see this post from the BITC’s Chief Executive Stephen Howard.
Finally we are working with external stakeholders to look at how to improve working practices for those at the lower end of the pay scale. Good examples are Sodexo’s recent support for the Equality and Human Right Commission’s campaign to improve working conditions in the cleaning industry and our support for the BITC’s Business Inquiry into Improving Low-Income Employment.
We recognise that our success as a services provider relies upon customer facing employees – cleaners, waiters, security guards, porters and catering assistants – who are effectively trained, engaged and motivated. As a responsible employer committed to improving quality of life for our employees, we are happy to celebrate Living Wage Week.