On the 15th of November 2021, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, made a speech at the People’s History Museum to mark the beginning of Living Wage Week.

With 384 businesses in the city-region having already been granted Living Wage Employer status, Mr Burnham set out ambitious plans to increase that number to 650 within three years and, ultimately, for all of the area’s employees to be offered the Real Living Wage and Living Hours contracts by 2030.

These pledges certainly position Manchester as a pioneer on this issue but, encouragingly, it is not the only place where change is happening. For example, in October the Scottish Government announced that companies bidding to win public sector contracts north of the border will now have to pay the Real Living Wage.

This growing momentum around the issue of fair pay is indicative of a wider emphasis on the broader area of environmental, social and governance (ESG) policy within the business world. This umbrella term relates to the measures against which a company can be judged as a good corporate citizen, and it has rapidly risen to the top of boardroom agendas in recent years, increasing its presence on tenders and in procurement processes.

Of course, many companies have proactively pursued a responsible path long before the term ESG was even coined. For others, this focus has lit the touchpaper on a number of more reactive measures to modernise their practices, with a view to maintaining customer engagement and avoiding reputational damage.

Coronavirus has been a catalyst for this trend. Indeed, in a survey of C-suite leaders and board members across Europe commissioned by consultants EY, two thirds said COVID-19 was responsible for increasing expectations that companies will drive societal impact, environmental sustainability, and inclusive growth – as well as measuring and reporting on these ssues.[1]. And while the buck stops with leadership teams, companies must also take responsibility for what’s happening beyond their own boundaries among supply chain partners.

ESG Environmental social and governance

Within the facilities management and cleaning services sector, these conversations have certainly intensified during the pandemic. Questions are increasingly being asked regarding the sustainability of both our own operations and client-facing activities, and also the policies we have in place to sustain the wellbeing of our diverse workforce.

This is in part because of COVID-19’s role in shining a spotlight on cleaning operatives as a vital part of the keyworker community. In this time of ongoing instability and turbulence, our people have been shown to be a crucial constant in maintaining safe working environments and, when circumstances allow, they will be integral in building confidence among the workers returning to shared offices and workspaces.

Within this context – and at a time when Brexit has been a catalyst for employee shortages in the sector – it stands to reason that the delivery of a responsive, ethical and professional service can only truly be achieved through an investment in people. For us, as employers and contractors, that means ensuring our employees are equipped with appropriate skills in areas such as health and safety, understand the importance of limiting our impact on the environment, and are committed to deliver a standards-driven service with purpose and integrity.

Price, of course, will always be critical in any supplier-based relationship. As such, it is up to us to make such choices in a way that will satisfy the delicate balance between doing the right thing by our clients, our business and our people.

At The Tudor Group, our answer is to look at cost within the broader measure of value. That might be open to interpretation, but our philosophy is very much aligned to the American Federation of Labor’s motto of supporting “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work”. While the use of zero-hours contracts has exploded in recent years, we are proud to be Recognised Service Providers with the Living Wage Foundation, and encouraged by the recent pledges made by the Mayor of Greater Manchester to increase the number of Real Living Wage employers.

The growth in the number of companies looking to pay the Real Living Wage brings obvious benefits to the workforce. For us, however, it is also rewarding that our actions and decisions make such a positive contribution to our clients. After all, these are companies not only facing Brexit-related worker shortages across the cleaning sector more widely, but also the complex challenge of realising the environmental and social goals within their ambitious ESG strategies.

The Tudor Group is a highly successful cleaning company, servicing clients all over the UK, working with national hotel chains, restaurants, educational institutions, and transport providers, to name a few. To see how we can help you, please contact 0161 789 3550 or email sales@tudorcc.com.

[1] https://www.ey.com/en_uk/ceo/the-ceo-imperative-rebound-to-more-sustainable-growth