Guest Blog: Carin Hammer Blakebrough, IKEA
Why paying the real Living Wage is the right thing to do
At IKEA, we care about people first. Our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people and this includes our co-workers just as much as our customers. Our values guide us in everything we do and we operate with a spirit of togetherness, treating everyone as equal.
We currently employ 10,900 people across the UK and each one of them is a unique talent. It’s their individuality and diversity that sets IKEA apart and helps us to meet the needs of our customers across the country.
People are at the heart of our business and we’re committed to making a positive contribution to their lives. It is for this reason that we made the decision more than two years ago, to pay our co-workers the real Living Wage. As one of the first major retailers to commit to implementing and paying the real Living Wage, we’re proud to be able to demonstrate how a big business like IKEA can make this work and how it helps us to continue growing and investing in the UK.
It goes beyond the salary – as employers we need to care about all basic needs including having secure contracts, trustworthy work schedules and time off. It is about a decent human work life. Introducing the real Living Wage was the right thing to do, because we believe in paying a meaningful wage to all co-workers which truly reflects the real cost of living.
Our work with the Living Wage Foundation has meant that IKEA was crowned the winner of the Living Wage Champions Awards for the North West region in 2016. Winning the award was a great honour and we want to pave the way for other retailers and businesses to become Living Wage Employers by sharing our experiences with them.
Since winning the award we have continued to promote the benefits of being a real Living Wage Employer. Our Country Retail Manager, Gillian Drakeford, is on the Living Wage Commission and oversees the calculation of the Living Wage rates in London and the UK. Living Wage Week is always a great opportunity to highlight what we are doing, especially around the time when the new rates are announced. Our co-workers are really happy with the wage increase and we have shared some of their stories externally; some of them have even spoken publicly at events organised by the Living Wage Foundation. My predecessor Pernille Hagild also recently delivered a speech at the Parliamentary Reception highlighting why this is such an important issue.
We know we still have much work to do though – we are working closely with our suppliers to ensure they are accredited Living Wage Employers by the end of summer 2019. This isn’t an easy task but we will get there soon, because we truly believe it is the right thing to do.
Carin Hammer Blakebrough, IKEA UK’s Country HR Manager