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Keeping it Real on Living Wage Recognised Service Providers Day

03 November 2016 | Updated 25 August 2021

New Real Living Wage rates were announced on October 31 - the start of Real Living Wage Week. Thursday was set aside for Recognised Service Providers to promote the benefits.

Below, Martin Boden, Divisional Managing Director of Sodexo Corporate Services, writes on why the Living Wage matters:

Since formally becoming a Recognised Service Provider in June 2015, Sodexo has been working hard to implement the independently-calculated Living Wage rates in London and the UK, not only in its head offices around the UK but also with new and existing clients we work with.

As an organisation with people at its heart and one that is focussed on improving quality of life and having a positive impact on society, the move to become a Recognised Services Provider was not one that required too much thought – it made perfect sense. As part of this process we committed to provide a Living Wage alternative in all our bids and to encourage our clients to go further than the government minimum and ensure their staff earn a wage they can live on.

As a result, over the past 18 months I have been fortunate to be involved in a number of negotiations and discussions about how we implement the independent (Real) Living Wage rates in new and existing business. This is not a straightforward process and definitely requires a degree of commitment from both the client and the service provider sides. However, it has been hugely encouraging to hear the developing views of a number of clients, colleagues and peers about the subject and the growing importance they are placing on supporting the Living Wage Foundation to make a real difference.

I met with a client recently to discuss the development of a case study that we plan to share through the Living Wage Foundation over the coming months. We discussed in detail the process that we went through and started to evaluate the benefits we have both seen as a result.

It’s only when you consider how things were before that you realise how much of a difference implementing the Real Living Wage can make. There are obviously the tangible benefits that we can easily measure - things such as employee engagement and customer satisfaction but there are also the more intangible elements such as the personal stories from employees regarding the difference the Real Living Wage makes to their lives.

One example from someone at one of our contracts where the client has extended their Real Living Wage commitment to include contractors such as Sodexo highlights the impact it can make. When asked what the Real Living Wage meant to them, their response was that it has improved their family’s finances considerably and as result they were able to enjoy a more comfortable and happy family life. To me, this is what it is all about.

The Real Living Wage does make a real difference to the people we employ and I believe there is a considerable opportunity for the facilities management industry as a whole to benefit from this. Too often our industry could be accused of participating in a race to the bottom. With staffing costs being one of the most visible overheads, it is often where the focus is put to reduce costs. Not only would I argue that this creates an issue of sustainability for all of us in the industry, it certainly doesn’t support and recognise the value of the people we employ. As a major employer in the services industry we truly believe that our people, who are skilled, committed and provide outstanding service to our clients, should be paid fairly.

I personally will continue to promote these ideals at Sodexo and to the wider facilities management industry and look forward to continuing our work with and supporting the Living Wage Foundation in the future.


About the Service Provider Recognition scheme

For many sectors implementing the Real Living Wage, achieving accreditation relies on responsible procurement. The Living Wage Foundation has been successful thanks to the constructive involvement of partners in the contracted service providers industry that have worked with employers to implement the Real Living Wage on their contracts.

It is not always possible for these providers to implement the Real Living Wage for all the contracts they deliver. However they can communicate to clients that the Real Living Wage is always an option. To recognise contractors who support the aims of the Living Wage Foundation, the Service Provider Recognition programme, with key members in the Service industry, was launched two years ago.

Martin Boden is also member of the Living Wage Foundation's Leadership Group for Recognised Service Provider scheme.



Tim Proctor, HSEQ & CR Director for ISS UK & Ireland blogs about what the Living Wage means to ISS this Living Wage Week.

ISS UK & Ireland have been strong founding partners of the Recognised Service Provider Scheme.

Tim is a key member of our Service Providers Leadership Group at the Living Wage Foundation.

ISS is proud to be associated with Living Wage Week across the UK and celebrates all activities and events that mark the new independently-calculated UK and London Living Wage rates in place across the country.

Living Wage Week provides us – as proud Recognised Service Providers - alongside all Living Wage employers and supporters, with the opportunity to reflect on our achievements to date and celebrate our roles in driving up the incomes of those at the lower end of the pay scale. Although in the past year we have seen the new National Living Wage (effectively a new higher minimum wage rate for those over 25 years old) introduced by the Government, we continue to applaud and support the Living Wage Foundation for its work. Along with the Resolution Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and others, the Foundation regularly calculates a higher hourly rate that enables workers to earn a ‘real’ Living Wage.

The Living Wage Service Providers Group has, since formed, supported the campaign for the Living Wage for the cost of living.  Recognised Living Wage Service Providers (i.e. formally recognised by the Living Wage Foundation) will continue to pay the real Living Wage to employees working on our own sites and to always supply a Living Wage bid option alongside every market rate submittal to all current and prospective clients. This means the client always has the choice to implement the Living Wage at the point of tender.

As Service Providers, the Facilities Management sector is responsible for employing a sizable proportion of the working population  - estimated at approximately 10% of the UK working population in 2015 by the British Institute of FM (BIFM) - which places us in a gifted position to help to influence pay levels. We are proud that we have worked with a number of our clients to move our staff working for them onto the real Living Wage.

The business benefits of paying the Living Wage to our staff are clear and the Living Wage Foundation continues to generate excellent research showcasing these benefits, along with the associated advantages that come with an improved standard of living. For ISS, it drives engagement and motivation among our employees, leading them to stay with us to grow and develop their careers. It also helps to build stronger relationships with our clients who recognise the importance of this agenda and want to make a difference in their own operations and communities.

We look forward to continuing to champion the agenda for a real Living Wage throughout Living Wage Week and into 2017. We hope to recruit new members to The Living Wage Service Providers Group and raise awareness across the FM sector. By ensuring the best possible working environment for our people, in turn we as a sector are in a position to drive quantifiable, positive business benefits.

Click Here for details of the Service Provider Recognition Scheme


Stuart Wright, Property & Facilities Director at Aviva Plc, blogs on the importance of the Living Wage to Aviva

Aviva has had a long association with the Living Wage as an early adopter of the London rate and more recently as a Principal Partner of the Foundation.  Aviva is a fully accredited Living Wage employer. 

But why do Aviva do this?  Many reasons, but first and most important because it is the right thing to do.  Two of Aviva’s values play directly in this space – ‘Care More’, which fundamentally means ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘Create Legacy’ or being a good ancestor.  This matters to our people and reflects our brand; we firmly believe that paying the real Living Wage will create a better, stronger and ultimately more successful company for our customers, our people and our investors.

The Living Wage Foundation is a unique movement of employers, trade unionists, religious groups, schools and campaigners across the country – there is no other campaign quite like it and it is easily one of the most successful of the last decade – this success is in no small way due to Aviva’s support; this success feels good and Aviva are keen to remain on the journey.

Aviva’s has a global brand promise we call Good Thinking, I can summarise how we know that paying the real Living Wage is Good Thinking through 3 key points:

Paying the Living Wage is Good Thinking for us as an organisation – we want to be an employer of choice, which helps us to protect the long term success of our business – creating legacy.  There is evidence of our LW stance driving recruitment of senior colleagues and it has created a feel-good factor; a sense of pride to work for Aviva.  We have seen positive, written support from shareholders with direct communication to senior directors

But we also know that paying the Living Wage is Good Thinking for our industry and business at large – employers who pay a fair wage have a multiplier effect, because as ambassadors they help encourage other businesses to do the same.  We have seen increased loyalty with reduced staff turnover, absenteeism and sick leave not to mention an improved productivity driven by a feeling of people being more valued for the work they are doing

Thirdly and most importantly it is Good Thinking for our people - it improves quality of life and affords people the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families – whether Aviva people or the vital support people that work across our sites; we have shown that we Care More

Paying the Living Wage really is Good Thinking for everyone.  I am proud to work for Aviva; and as Chair of the Living Wage Advisory Group I know that we can make a real difference. We have to make work the surest way out of poverty – Aviva will continue to play a key role.


Living Wage Friendly Funding, one year on. From Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Finance, Performance and Community Safety at the London Borough of Islington.

Back in 2012, Islington Council became one of the country’s first Living Wage local authorities. A year ago, we built on that commitment by also becoming the first council to be recognised as a Living Wage Friendly Funder. The scheme supports grant-giving organisations to secure the Living Wage through their core grant-making, aiming to bring people together to help end low pay in the voluntary and community sector.  This can make a real difference in a sector where average pay is lower than in public services or in private enterprise.

A key part of Friendly Funder status is securing the Living Wage for grant-funded posts, or at least to work towards this according to an agreed timeframe.  In Islington, our Voluntary and Community Sector Grants Programme provides a total of £2.7 million of funding each year to more than 50 local charitable organisations, all of which have now committed to paying their staff at least the London Living Wage.  In addition, through some of our other, smaller funding streams, we do what we can to encourage community beneficiaries to pay a Living Wage as well.

We support voluntary and community sector organisations to become accredited Living Wage employers themselves too. In total, 110 Islington organisations, including charities, are now accredited as Living Wage employers and we want to help more third-sector organisations to sign up.

This is a difficult time for charities and local authorities alike. But the voluntary and community sector’s role in our communities is more vital now than ever and we commend their contribution to ensuring that people employed here get the dignity of decent pay for their hard work.

Our partners are helping us drive the Living Wage throughout our borough. Voluntary Action Islington, for example, was one of the first voluntary sector organisations in Islington to become an accredited Living Wage employer. Its acting Chief Executive, Philip Boye-Anawomah, said: "We continue strongly to support the work done on the Living Wage by the London Borough of Islington and London Citizens.  We also continue to help and encourage local voluntary sector organisations to sign up."

All of Islington Council’s own staff and now 98 per cent of our contractors get paid at least the London Living Wage. For a year now, we have hardwired the Living Wage into our approach to grant-giving as a Living Wage Friendly Funder as well. No-one should have to do a hard day’s work for less than they can live on, including those who work for community groups or charities.

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 03 November 2016


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