Guest Blog: Bex Dawkes, A Blueprint for Better Business
The topic of fair pay includes the lowest forms of exploitation to the highest forms of remuneration and everything in between. But who defines what ‘fair’ means?
One definition of ‘fair’ might be an amount justified by the market. This is often the case for senior executives and CEOs. When a salary is deemed as fair in comparison to an industry or a job function however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is fair in light of wider issues within our society: such as economic inequality.
Another definition might be an amount which covers a person’s basic needs. Although this could be fair from the perspective of an employer, it may not accurately reflect the value which that person contributes: to both the organisation and to society at large. This is the situation for many who currently get paid the minimum wage.
‘Value’ is another interesting word. If interpreted in a monetary sense, talking about the ‘value’ that people add to companies could lead you to believe that financial incentives, bonuses or commission-based salaries are all fair ways to pay people. Alternatively, if you talk about wider forms of value, such as building relationships, trust or public image, paying people in this way could actually limit the value that they generate for the company.
An increasingly prevalent area in this debate, is the gig economy, freelance workers and zero-hours contracts. If full-time employment cannot be guaranteed in these circumstances, then what does a fair wage look like? And how would that be delivered? Is looking at how much someone is paid per hour ‘fair’ if they are only needed to work for a few hours a day but expected to be available for more?
A Blueprint for Better Business believes that, in principle, a fair wage is one which can stand up to scrutiny and be justified in a public forum. It is one which reflects the broadest sense of value and contribution that a person can add.
In practical terms though, there are many nuances to this debate – which is what makes this topic so hard and complex. One area which cannot be up for discussion though, is the minimum level at which we operate. No matter how, where and when we work, we all deserve to earn a wage which allows us to meet our basic needs and contribute to wider society. A Living Wage.
The Blueprint Framework challenges us to “go beyond the minimum” and to “provide benefits that people desire and value, but cannot expect or demand”. So whilst we don’t believe that the Living Wage is the final solution to the fair pay debate, we do believe that it’s the first step we must take: and the platform from which we can begin to address what we really mean by ‘fair’.
A Blueprint for Better Business