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Certifying voluntary living wage employers

Melita Ptashnick (Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Daniyal Zuberi (Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 8 September 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Living wage campaigns are popular responses to counter increasing inequality in advanced industrial countries. The purpose of this paper is to examine how voluntary living wage employer certification engages business in multi-sectoral coalitions to reduce poverty.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors utilize qualitative interviews with 30 members of a living wage employer certification program in Vancouver, Canada as a case study to explore campaign participation by the business community and business case outcomes.

Findings

Certifying voluntary living wage employers engaged business community members as partners and advocates in a living wage campaign. Certified living wage employers fulfilled business case projections for worker compensation fairness, human resource improvements and corporate branding advantages.

Research limitations/implications

The study focussed on the early stages of a living wage employer certification program. As the number of living wage certification programs and ordinances grows, future research would benefit from examining how different social policy contexts in other Canadian and international regions affects whether these two avenues support one another or one avenue becomes favoured.

Originality/value

Most studies of living wage campaigns have not dealt with how voluntary employer certification programs affect campaign participation and outcomes. The approach the authors adopt in the case takes into account the role of voluntary employer certification programs on campaign participation by the business community and business case outcomes. The study findings are of value to businesses, activists and policy analysts, who engage in or study corporate social responsibility initiatives to facilitate the creation of “good jobs” that provide family sustaining wages and benefits, particularly to lower-tier workers.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Citation

Ptashnick, M. and Zuberi, D. (2015), "Certifying voluntary living wage employers", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 35 No. 9/10, pp. 618-634. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-09-2014-0070

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited