Earlier this month, our Development Director Tim Thorlby spoke at the launch of London Living Wage Week, at an event with Mayor Sadiq Khan. CTC is a founding partner in the enterprise, and Tim is currently on secondment as its Managing Director. In his talk, he explained the roots of the company in community organising…
My name is Tim Thorlby. I’m the Managing Director of Clean for Good – an office cleaning company for London
We’re a different kind of cleaning company – we launched 2.5 years ago as a business with a social purpose. We deliver a professional cleaning service to our customers but we also deliver a fair deal for our cleaners.
And the Living Wage is fundamental to our business – and I would like to explain why. There are three reasons.
Firstly, we share the same DNA as the Living Wage Movement. The Living Wage Campaign started 20 years ago in East London – through the work of the community organising alliance, Citizens UK. It was (and is) a grassroots movement which is demanding an end to ‘working poverty’.
Clean for Good was also founded through community organising. Five years ago, a church in the City of London did a listening exercise amongst the low paid workers in its parish and asked them what they wanted. The church spoke to some of London’s ‘hidden workers’ – the people going home as most people are arriving for work each morning. These workers didn’t want sympathy or charity – they wanted fair pay and respect for their work.
Clean for Good emerged out of those conversations. We’ve built a social business which does a professional job and also delivers fair pay and respect for the cleaners.
So, we recognise that the Living Wage is something which our workers and our communities are asking for.
The second reason the Living Wage is important to us is that being an accredited Living Wage Employer offers a clear public statement of our values. We launched on Valentine’s Day 2017 and, after opening a bank account, applying for Living Wage Accreditation was the first thing we did.
The real Living Wage is a key reason why we can recruit and retain great cleaners.
It is a key reason why customers approach us.
But the accreditation also says something wider about our corporate values. Paying the Living Wage is a starting point in our commitment to ‘good work’. All of our employees have decent Terms & Conditions – above statutory minimums – and we invest in our team.
Some people have asked us if this commitment to fair pay and ‘good work’ is commercially viable? Well, over the last 2.5 years, we’ve won customers across the business, charity and public sectors – and we’re already a £0.5m turnover business making a small profit.
So, yes, our experience is that building a business on the Living Wage is entirely viable.
Finally, for us the Living Wage is a recognition that our economy works best when it recognises our humanity. When you arrived this morning, you will have seen our Portrait Exhibition. They are portraits of some of our cleaning team. It’s a celebration of the diversity of London’s cleaners.
They are not victims or heroes, just ordinary people – from students to 60somethings, men and women, from every continent on earth – and every one of them has their own story.
And each one of them deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Thank you