So what would be logical next steps for supermarkets to progress on living wage?
- First of all, it is important that companies develop their own vision and responsibility on this topic. Living wage therefore deserves a place in corporate policy and has to be translated into concrete steps and KPIs.
- Auditing schemes are among the building blocks of a living wage policy. However, current schemes have not integrated living wage successfully as yet. As companies often have a seat on the table at the various auditing schemes, it is important to use their leverage and jointly work to integrate living wage more strongly in auditing schemes.
- It still remains unclear how sourcing strategies, buying groups and pricing strategies on one hand and CSR goals in the other, interact. Transparency on how they interact and strengthen or weaken each other is much needed. This is a first step to enable the discussion how they could be more aligned.
- Another open question is how customers can be informed more clearly about the CSR performance, including living wage, of the products they buy. By informing and nudging customers to make more sustainable choices, a business case arises to take steps in relation to living wage. This is more easily said than done, however there are several promising best-practices. Examples are the work that “C’est qui le patron!” is doing in France, and the work of “Tony Chocolonely” in the Netherlands.
- Also technological developments can be a part of solving this puzzle. Although still in their infancy, micro-insurance and blockchain can help to increase transparency in the chain and as a food retailer to directly remunerate employees at the bottom of the production chain.
To achieve all these points, we have to take a step by step approach and collaboration between companies, experts and CSOs will be necessary. Fortunately many food retail companies have started to do so in various platforms and initiatives.