Coutts backs investors’ call for a real living wage at Sainsbury’s

7 July, Sainsbury’s shareholders will have the opportunity to vote at the Living Wage Accreditation-themed Annual General Meeting for the national supermarket, which employs more than 170,000 direct employees.

We will support ShareAction’s request for Sainsbury’s to pay all its workers Living Wages by becoming a Living Wage Accredited Employer.

Coutts, as part of the NatWest Group, became a Living Wage Employer in 2014. Leslie Gent, Head of Responsible Investment, said: “As a Living Wage Accredited Employer, we know the importance of ensuring that all members of our workforce and third-party contractors are paid a salary commensurate with the cost of living, which can help provide financial security and stability.”

Living Wage Accredited Employers commit to paying their staff a salary commensurate with the cost of living. The actual living wage is currently £11.05 an hour in London and £9.90 an hour in the rest of the UK, while the current mandatory minimum wage is £9.18 an hour. per hour for those under 23 and £9.50 per hour for employees over 23.

We acknowledge that at the start of the year, Sainsbury’s raised wages for its central London employees to £11.05, in line with the actual living wage. While we welcomed this decision, we still support the resolution for living wage accreditation.

Leslie said: “We recognize the positive progress Sainsbury’s has made to match the living wage of its directly employed staff. We believe this accreditation would set a standard for all UK supermarkets and provide the certainty and transparency that helps attract a high quality workforce now and in the future.

Additionally, Sainsbury’s has a number of contract staff in its stores working as security guards and cleaning staff, for whom we have seen no commitment or promise from the retailer to review their current wages. As a Living Wage accredited organisation, third party contract staff are also affected and an organization must ensure that such contract staff are paid in accordance with the actual living wage.

Supporting the “S” in ESG

This support is essential to our mandate as a responsible investor and as a B Corp committed to investing both with purpose and to improve how companies can act in the best interests of the environment, society and adopt good governance (ESG).

“Supporting initiatives like these shows that investing responsibly isn’t just about issues like climate change, but can also have a real social impact,” says Leslie.

Learn more about how Coutts supports responsible investing through shareholder engagement

Michael A. Bynum