This briefing is an update to our 2021 briefing ‘Low wage and insecure work in the UK retail sector’. It builds on the arguments made in ShareAction’s previous briefings: Insecure Work in Insecure Times and Investor Toolkit on the Living Wage. This year, ShareAction filed a resolution at Sainsbury’s on the Living Wage (see Case Study) and this briefing provides context to the resolution, by outlining broader sector trends on wages and insecure work.
This investor briefing makes the case for raising wages and improving working conditions – starting with retail workers but moving to encompass all workers in the food production system. Currently, there is a diversity of practice in the retail sector, but in the light of the pandemic, the tight-labour market and cost of living crisis we anticipate a growing competitive pressure on retailers to demonstrate they value their workers and address current inequities. The methodologies and examples of best practice already exist to drive better performance across the sector. There are well-documented business cases for investing in frontline workers.
In addition to a summary of the issues, the briefing sets out practical steps for investors on how to get under the surface of retailers’ initial responses in engagement meetings. Informed investors can play their part in supporting retailers to improve their practices and support thousands of low paid workers in the sector and their supply chains.