Rhys Moore: What are the challenges and rewards of offering a living wage?

In November, leading employers across the UK celebrated the first-ever Living Wage Week.

We saw [London mayor] Boris Johnson and [Labour party leader] Ed Miliband publicly renew their backing for the campaign.

The first wave of accredited living wage employers was announced: a list of more than 100 organisations, large and small, private and public, including KPMG, Birmingham City Council, Save the Children and Linklaters. Living Wage Week felt like a turning point.

Over the last 10 years (the campaign was launched in 2001 by charity London Citizens), the living wage has established itself as a mainstream movement. What brought this success? I suggest it is the experience of employers that have adopted the living wage.

Our biggest and most effective advocates are employers themselves. Firms like Barclays, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers have seen business benefits arise after implementing the living wage through their contracts.

Our ambition for the living wage employer mark is clear: to become an ethical brand as recognised as the Fairtrade mark. Ethical retailers such as Lush are already signing up. As consumer awareness grows, so too will the reputational rewards of paying the living wage.

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We recognise that there are challenges to the adoption of the living wage, particularly for employers in sectors where low pay is the norm. Over the past 18 months, we have been engaging with the retail sector to explore how moves towards the living wage may be possible over a number of years.

Rhys Moore is director of the Living Wage Foundation