Investments | 27 June 2022

Coutts support investors’ call for Real Living Wage at Sainsbury’s

While terms like ‘sustainability’ and ‘net zero’ seem to make up most conversations about responsible investing, there are other aspects of ESG (environmental, social and governance) where investors can influence companies to do better. An example is our decision to encourage Sainsbury’s to pay all its workers a living wage.


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On the 7 of July, Sainsbury’s shareholders will be given the opportunity to vote at the annual general meeting on the topic of Living Wage accreditation for the national supermarket, which employs over 170,000 direct employees.

We will be supporting ShareAction’s request for Sainsbury’s to pay all its workers the living wage 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 Investing, commented, “as an accredited Living Wage employer, we know the importance of ensuring that all members of our workforce and third-party contractors are given a wage that is kept in line with the costs of living, which can help to provide financial security and stability”.

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

We recognise that earlier in the year Sainsbury’s did raise wages for their inner London employees to £11.05, in line with the real living wage. While we welcomed this move, we’re still supportive of the resolution for Living Wage accreditation.

Leslie said, “We recognise the positive progress made by Sainsbury’s to match the living wage for its directly employed staff. We believe that this accreditation would set a standard for all UK supermarkets and would provide the certainty and transparency that helps attract a high-quality workforce, today and in the future.”

Furthermore, Sainsbury’s has a number of contracted staff across their stores working as security guards and cleaning staff, for whom we haven’t seen any commitments or pledges from the retailer to review their current wages. As a Living Wage accredited organisation, third party contracted staff are also in scope and an organisation must ensure that those contracted staff are paid in line with the real living wage.


Supporting the ‘S’ in ESG

This support is key to our mandate as a responsible investor and a B Corp committed to investing for purpose as well as profit – improving how companies can act in the best interests of the environment, society and employ good governance (ESG).

“Supporting initiatives like these shows that investing responsibly isn’t limited to issues such as climate change, but can have a real social impact as well,” says Leslie.


Read more on how Coutts is supporting responsible investing through shareholder engagement


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