First and foremost, businesses need to make money. No profits = no business = no jobs.
When we started The BIG Partnership in 2000, our goals were to survive, create a great PR agency that does effective work for clients and, hopefully, make a living in the process. But we also wanted BIG to be a good place to work. We’d been in other workplaces where that wasn’t always the case.
As we moved out of ‘survival’ mode and built the business, we tried to create a positive working environment where people were paid well, had good benefits and were treated fairly. Along the way, we increased holiday entitlements, gave people a day off on their birthday, provided study support, study leave, company iPhones and private medical care, among other benefits.
When the debate started over the Minimum / Living Wage, it struck a chord with us. Our industry, particularly in London, had gained a reputation for exploiting young people with open-ended, unpaid internships. Apart from the rank unfairness of this, it also discriminated against bright working class kids whose parents couldn’t afford to keep them while they gained so-called ‘work experience’.
This led us to make the decision three years ago to pay the Minimum Wage to all graduate internships. Last year, we signed up to the Glasgow Living Wage and decided to pay the Living Wage rate to all interns. When the Scottish Government introduced the Scottish Business Pledge, it chimed with our desire to be an employer of choice and a company identified with the best modern business practices.
We committed to the Pledge and paying the Living Wage. While only our interns are paid at the Living Wage level, it sends out a message that BIG is a business that embraces fairness, equality and opportunity. We’re already seeing the benefits in the number and quality of graduate applications we receive.
The bottom line will always be the bottom line. But we’ve no doubt that by making the Scottish Business Pledge, we’re creating a stronger and more successful company.
Alex Barr, Co-founder and Director