How to ‘build back better’ for real

The Centre for Theology & Community l

Tim Thorlby is CTC’s Development Director, and the Managing Director of Clean for Good – an ethical cleaning company with deep roots in the Church and in community organising. He blogs here on its new report on “Outsourcing and Ethical Sourcing”

2020 was the future once.

It has not turned out so well. The UK has been rocked by a global pandemic and almost every aspect of our national life has been put under real strain. 

In recent months, there has been much talk of how we should ‘build back better’.

Many of the people who have borne the brunt of Covid-19 have been those who continued to go to work during the Lockdown – social care workers, nurses, shop workers, couriers, cleaners and many others.  Many of these workers are also in low paying jobs with precarious incomes, and yet we have been reminded of how their work is essential to us.

So, any talk of ‘building back better’ surely needs to deliver something substantial back to these groups. They do not want life to go back to normal, because ‘normal’ was actually not a great place to be.

Some five million people in this country earn less than a Living Wage. A surprising number of these also earn less than the Minimum Wage. Many have jobs where their incomes are not guaranteed from week to week (e.g. those on zero hours contracts and the self-employed) and millions rely on statutory terms and conditions which are now set so low they constitute a national scandal – in particular, Statutory Sick Pay, which pays you nothing at all for the first three days of any illness.

How can we deliver change for these millions of people?

The answer may be under your very nose.

Almost every employer in this country – business, charity or church – buys in services from others. Outsourcing is big business in the UK. It can be done well, but it can also be done without much thought. Too many employers do not ask enough questions about what is inside the ‘black box’ of their outsourced service, or how it is being delivered.

By opening up this ‘black box’ there is a huge opportunity to make outsourcing more ethical and through this, to deliver enormous positive social change. It can also ensure that an organisation avoids serious reputational risks.

Clean for Good has published a short new report (From Outsourcing to Ethical Sourcing) which highlights the three key questions any employer can ask of potential suppliers:

-What wages do the workers earn?

-What is their employment status?

-What are their key terms and conditions?

This simple checklist can open up new conversations with suppliers and ensure that your organisation chooses suppliers whose values and behaviours match your own. When you outsource a service, you don’t want to outsource your values and responsibilities as well.

Anyone who is serious about ‘building back better’ needs the tools to do it. Clean for Good’s new report identifies one essential tool for social change.

It means that your own organisation’s spending power is being used to deliver positive social change – more workers earning a Living Wage, more people with secure incomes, more people living above the poverty line.

Clean for Good is an ethical cleaning company for London, cleaning offices and workspaces across the city. It is a Living Wage Employer, directly employs its cleaners and also trains and manages cleaners professionally.

For more information and to get a free quote for cleaning your offices, go to  

Follow us at @clean4good.

Tim Thorlby is the Managing Director of Clean for Good and Development Director of CTC. You can find him at @TimThorlby.

The report link is:

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