21st April 2015 at 8:11am
Employers can do many things to support communities so that all groups in society have an equal chance to thrive.
We’ve been working to help reduce poverty and social exclusion for some time; so we were really pleased when we were asked to host an event to launch the Joseph Rowntree Foundation annual report on poverty and social exclusion in Scotland.
I think it demonstrates how far we’ve come in playing a positive role as an employer in helping our community.
Poverty and social exclusion are bad for everyone – but the good news is that things are improving for some, as the report shows.
Child poverty in Scotland has come down one-third since 1990. And older people are faring better too, with pensioner poverty down by two-thirds.
We’re moving in the right direction, but there is still a way to go.
Youth and working age poverty have increased. This is a problem, not just because of the human cost now, but because of what it could mean for the future. The cycle of poverty will need to be broken to allow younger generations make the most of their lives, to find jobs, access training, become parents, have enough to save for their retirement.
What can we, and employers like us, do?
Reach out to schools
Working with schools and other groups in the community – through mentoring, workshops and so on – reduces barriers and increases understanding between employers and the communities around them.
Helping young people make the leap into work
Programmes and placements such as the Edinburgh Guarantee scheme – which we’ve been part of since 2012 – help young people make the transition from school to work.
Fair pay with a living wage
Paying the living wage is something many employers are already doing, so that people are able to enjoy work – and life out of work.
Support for people in work
We offer training and development, mentoring and coaching to remove barriers for those who want to work. We’ve also set up networks for groups such as the LGBT, the Young Persons Development Network, the Women’s Development network and staff from the Armed Forces. It also means having family-friendly employment policies, including our carers leave policy.
It’s important for us to join up with and support other businesses, peers, and voluntary organisations so that, together, we can influence the bigger picture. Hosting events such as the launch of the Joseph Rowntree annual report are one way we do this.
It was fantastic to see a range of employers, charities, MSPs and academics attending and we all look forward to the year ahead and doing all we can to continue closing the poverty and social exclusion gap.
If you want to read more on the JRF report, it’s available here.
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