A Responsible Investment From Ethiopia to the UK

By Lisa Nathan, ShareAction

A Responsible Investment From Ethiopia to the UK

Oxfam’s comprehensive briefing on companies seeking to do more to ensure a Living Wage. It breaks down why low wages are persisting and highlights how this can be changed –showcasing the best practices companies and NGOs have put in place and providing concrete recommendations for how companies could do better.

It also rightly draws attention to the reasons why companies should do so. At ShareAction, we’ve been focussing on showcasing one major reason why it makes sense for companies to provide a Living Wage here in the UK: it matters to their investors.

More and more investors are seeing beyond the short-termism of the upfront costs of providing the Living Wage in the UK and recognising the long-term business benefits. In the Investor Briefing we published last month on The Case for the Living Wage, we showed how even these short-terms costs are less than one might think. Meanwhile, the business benefits to a company –from an improved reputation with consumers and reduced risk of hitting in the headlines for the wrong reasons to reduced turnover and improved morale – make companies that adopt the Living Wage both more socially and financially sustainable in the long-term. Though focussing on the UK, these arguments hold true for the Living Wage across a global supply chain.

We’ve been bringing together the voices of the investors calling for this sustainable business practice in a collaborative initiative to encourage the UK’s largest 100 listed companies, the FTSE 100, to ensure that they adopt the Living Wage in the UK, for not only their direct employees but for the first layer of their supply chain: their staff employed through contractors on their UK premises.

This collaborative initiative sends their call for Living Wages to these company boards and top executives in the time when the voice of investors is heard the loudest, before their annual shareholder meetings (AGMs). And then we deliver it to the board directly with questions at these AGMs, which whether asked by big investors or small shareholders, ensures that pay at the bottom is considered at the very top.

This initiative is gathering momentum amongst companies signing up, with 18 of the FTSE 100 now accredited as Living Wage employers for the UK with the Living Wage Foundation, while more and more institutional investors are joining the call. With the movement gathering momentum in the UK, there’s no reason why investors all over the world shouldn’t be looking at the benefits of paying a Living Wage.

To find out more about our work on the Living Wage, contact Lisa at li**@sh*********.org.

Editor’s Note: This blog was previously published on OXFAM and is reproduced with permission.

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