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Living Wage in the Gig Economy, by KPMG’s Andy Bagnall

Hear Andy Bagnall’s, KPMG Director of External Affairs thoughts on globalisation, fair wages and what an innovative start-up like Gigstr and a ‘Big 4’ professional services firm like KPMG have in common. 

I was delighted to join a recent Gigstr event in conjunction with the Living Wage Foundation. What struck me, was that while so much is happening to disrupt economic, social and political norms, good values remain high on many different organisations’ agenda.

The likes of KPMG and Gigstr may seem worlds apart – one an established ‘Big 4’ professional services firm and the other an innovative start-up – and yet there we were, sharing a stage, united in our accreditation as Living Wage employers.

Globalisation has been a force for much good. But the resultant benefits have not been distributed evenly between or within societies. In particular, stagnant wages for some while others have raced ahead, has led to dissatisfaction with our economic system.

Paying the Living Wage seems like a natural response to this. However, the decision to pay all staff this rate and encourage our suppliers to do the same wasn’t a straightforward journey for us.

We had to navigate challenges from internal leadership, who understandably had financial and practical reservations, and external stakeholders, such as some clients, who didn’t like the idea. But we felt it was right to change our own behaviours, challenge others to change theirs and use our position to advocate this cause. Today, we are a proud founding partner and champion of the Living Wage Foundation. 

For us, paying the Living Wage is much more than a Corporate Responsibility activity. It has changed the way we procure services and, more directly, has proven a mechanism through which we have actually reduced costs and improved profitability. The additional take home salary combined with benefits such as sick pay, has significantly increased motivation, which in turn has boosted retention and productivity.

Talent is evenly distributed throughout the UK, but opportunity is not. In this country, the circumstances you are born into still have a decisive influence on the opportunities available to you in life.

Reversing this trend will have a profound impact on society – particularly social mobility, productivity and economic growth.

This can be driven, on the most basic of levels, by paying the real Living Wage. It may not be possible or practical for everyone, but all organisations need to do what they can to address the problem of low pay.

Andy Bagnall, KPMG Director of External Affairs

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