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What we do

Photo: Leonard Fäustle

Change Lab approach

The Living Wage & Income Lab follows the approach of a Change Lab: it provides space for a variety of stakeholders to explore and experiment, and work together to find solutions for an urgent and complex problem. A Change Lab is being used when there is no solution or best practice readily available, when more than one expert is required to address the problem, and where there is no formal authority owning the problem, process and/or solution.

Our lab process is designed to create a conducive environment for trust building and problem-solving. We move through five phases, which are fluid and flexible: defining, exploring, connecting, testing and unleashing.

A human right

In the past few years, the attention for living wages has increased amongst a wide range of stakeholders. The workers’ right to receive a living wage is embedded in various human rights conventions, including the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and several conventions from the International Labour Organization (ILO). Although the right to a living wage is a universal human right, wages for the workers in many global supply chains are too low to guarantee a decent standard of living. Global competition puts pressure on prices paid downstream the supply chains which increases income inequalities.

Impact of low wages

Low wages have a negative impact on the livelihoods of workers, their families and the communities in which they live. There are many examples of workers that have multiple jobs or work excessive hours of overtime in order to make a living. Low wages result in workers not being able to provide for their families’ basic needs such as proper food and shelter, or to cope with unexpected events, such as illness. This perpetuates poverty. It also makes workers and especially women more vulnerable to being mistreated or sexually harassed and increases the likelihood of children being sent out to work instead of going to school.

Paying higher wages to workers can provide companies with benefits including:

- Increased worker’s health and morale and reduced absence, resulting in improved product quality and higher productivity
- Attracting and retaining (skilled) workers, resulting in lower turnover rates, and less administrative and training costs
- Improved reputation and opportunities for marketing and PR, also for companies further down the supply chain. See also True Price's exploratory study into the business case for a living wage rose