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Ideas & Observations

Guest contributor: Jamie Driscoll

With the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s flagship Good Work Pledge having recently secured its 65th company, Mayor Jamie Driscoll highlights the benefits of the scheme and why, as the cost of living crisis bites harder, more organisations should take the oath and provide a safe and rewarding environment for staff.

Reputations matter.

Just ask Rebekah Vardy. Or Bernard Looney, chief executive of BP, which recently reported its biggest quarterly profit in 14 years.

The news came at the same time forecasts were claiming household energy bills will hit more than £3600 a year this winter.

It’s not a good look. Reputations matter. Employers’ reputations matter too. There are bosses, and there are good bosses.

There are jobs, and there are good jobs.

They’re not necessarily the same thing, though.

Do they pay enough? Are they secure? Are there opportunities to learn and develop? Are staff fairly represented?

Amy Park gets it.

She’s director of people and culture at Robson Laidler.

“It’s all about having a bit of soul”, she says.

“The impact of this business is more than a financial return for its owners.

“Why would you not want to be part of creating a better world, a better local community, and a better place for your people to work?”

Robson Laidler is just one of the dozens of organisations to have signed up to the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s Good Work Pledge – a kitemark for decent employers. It’s designed to help businesses demonstrate their commitment to providing not just jobs, but good jobs.

In a world where so many people are struggling on zero-hours contracts in a gig economy, these jobs are important. So too is recognising the employers that offer them. We announced the Good Work Pledge in 2020. Awareness raising started and applications began flowing in 2021.

We’ve just had our 65th company sign up. Look down the list and you see all manner of organisations – from consultancies to care providers to cleaners.

There’s even a theatre company. Any firm ‘taking the pledge’ must show us how they meet various good practises– do they, for example, encourage flexible working options? Do they have policies that promote equality and diversity? Are there opportunities for staff to progress; to make their voices heard?

The pledge is more than a kitemark, though, it’s a business improvement plan too. It sets out “some great ideas for providing an even more exceptional workplace”.

Those aren’t my words, they’re Rachael Kuronboev’s, chief operating officer at Eco Steam, which took the pledge earlier this year.

Good work matters.

As a cost of living crisis hurtles towards us, it matters more than ever.

I’m grateful to those 65 businesses that know this. Businesses like Robson Laidler, like Eco Steam.

Every employer in the region should aspire to be a good employer.

Every employer should sign our Good Work Pledge.