Never talk about religion, they say. Well, I’m about to completely ignore that advice… and it’s in honour of Living Wage Week.
As a practising Christian, I was attending church one Sunday a couple of years ago, when my vicar came to sit beside me before the service started. We made small talk, and he asked what it was that I did for a job. I explained my role, and the many and varied stakeholders that it enabled me to interact with.
A workplace that is fair for everyone
“What a wonderful opportunity,” he exclaimed. In response to my puzzled look, he told me that he was often interested to understand where the opportunities are for those of us who work in jobs outside of the church, to share the principles of the Christian faith… in a manner of course that doesn’t leave anyone, regardless of their religious persuasion, feeling like they’re having them rammed in their face!
But in my role, he told me, he imagined that the cornerstones of Christianity formed a foundation of my day to day work. “You’re trying to ensure a workplace that is fair for everyone. Where people are treated with compassion; where kindness is at the heart of how you operate. That must be an amazing thing to be able to say that you do.”
The heart of a business
And I realised, in an instance, that he was right. I never went into the HR profession thinking that it particularly linked to my faith. I was interested in HR because people fascinate me; because I like to solve problems; because I wanted the privilege of being in a role that allowed me to sit in the very heart of a business. Because, in fact, I wanted to be the heart of that business.
And, in hindsight, because those fundamental principles were so important to me. Because I absolutely believe that people should be treated fairly, with compassion, and with kindness, regardless of their backgrounds, their roles within our organisations, or their level of seniority.
Very simply: I wanted to do the right thing.
Doing the right thing
Becoming a Living Wage Foundation employer remains one of the proudest moments of my career. I know how lucky I am to work for an employer who shares my view that to treat your people well is arguably the most important thing any organisation can do. Having seen the impact that year after year of austerity has had on particularly those lowest paid employees, I wanted to ensure that the hourly wage we pay our people covers the real cost of living.
I don’t consciously think about bringing my faith into my day to day work, but it’s true that the central Christian principles of kindness, compassion and love are absolutely fundamental to everything I do. I want to leave this world in a better place; and I want to ensure that there are no excuses for employers not to do the right thing by their people.