Investing in Heathrow’s most valued asset – why paying a Living Wage to colleagues is the right thing to do

Posted On: 
9th November 2018

Heathrow Airport's Chief Financial Officer reflects on  and celebrates the airport's first anniversary as an accredited Living Wage employer.

Heathrow staff and partners including represenatives from Wilson James, Mitie and Omniserve celebrating Living Wage Week

This week, Heathrow celebrates its first anniversary as an accredited Living Wage employer, and what a journey we have been on. We were the first airport in the UK to take this step – something we’re incredibly proud of – and are working hard to encourage other businesses, across all industries, to follow our lead.

Last week I spoke at a reception, organised by the Living Wage Foundation, alongside a colleague of mine. Alison, based at Heathrow’s Business Support Centre in Glasgow, shared her powerful story – how the uplift in her pay helped ease financial pressures at home to give her peace of mind at work and a feeling of security. There are similar stories to be found across Heathrow.  Every time I hear from a colleague who has benefitted from the uplift, it serves as vindication for our important decision to become a Living Wage employer.

Achieving Living Wage accreditation is a core element of our sustainability strategy, Heathrow 2.0, which underpins everything we do to make Heathrow the best place to live and work. We recognise that to sustain our business, we must start with our most valued asset – our colleagues. 

I am aware that for some business leaders or politicians, the Living Wage could raise a number of questions. And that was the reality for me too. But sensing that I – as CFO - might be the bottleneck in Heathrow’s accreditation process, our Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye made me Executive Sponsor for our Living Wage ambitions, knowing that delivering an ambitious cost-efficiency was compatible with making responsible decisions for our people. Embracing the Living Wage is not just about values, it’s about value. Fair pay drives engagement, higher productivity and better service to our passengers - a win-win solution to all. We cannot ask our people to go the extra mile, delivering the very best service in our terminals or in our wider operation, if we cannot match this by going the extra mile for them.

Ask the 200 colleagues across passenger services and in our Business Support Centre who have had their pay uplifted. And thousands of colleagues will follow by the end of 2020, as part of our commitment that all companies in our directly engaged supply chain will pay their Heathrow teams a Living Wage. 

In amongst a complex airport environment, we are working hard with around 200 suppliers to make these changes – and have stated that all will be transitioned by the end of 2020. In many cases, it will be sooner than that and we will be releasing our 2020 Roadmap at the end of the month to chart our progress.  Not only that, but Heathrow as a company will be zero hours contracts-free by the end of this year and we will work with our directly engaged suppliers to ensure they step back from using zero-hours contracts as they transition on to Living Wage terms.    

Heathrow is committed to providing secure, well-paid careers, not just jobs; now and into the future as we expand the airport. We encourage others to follow our lead and invest in the people who make business a success.