‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you – pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare’ Jeremiah 29:7
Left – Clean for Good photo exhibiton at St Katherine Cree Church London
Intro to Clean for Good
The cleaning sector is renowned for low wages and poor working conditions. Clean for Good is a response to this – we are a business with a social purpose.
The company was founded in the Parish of St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, in the City of London. When the church looked into the cleaning happening in their parish, they found a surprising number of low-paid cleaners, working in less-than fair circumstances.
Every day the City of London relies upon a small army of low-income workers to keep the City ticking over – cleaners, security guards, and couriers to name a few. Working anti-social hours, thousands are coming to work as the day-time City workers leave their desks. Some are treated well, but many less so – with low wages, poor working conditions and little scope for advancement. They have been described as the City’s ‘hidden workers’.
We also regularly come across cleaners who have been employed on less than the Minimum Wage or have not been paid their full wages. So a cleaning company was set up to provide work for cleaners with decent working conditions and paying the London Living Wage.*
So that is what we do. Clean for Good enables cleaners to thrive, not just survive. Every cleaner is viewed and treated as a person with skills and potential. We want to promote the idea that cleaning is a respected and dignified career. We care about our employees and want to enable them with the skills and confidence to progress not only within our company, but in their life.
At Clean for Good we aim to provide hope for those who are tired, overworked, and underpaid.
The first Cleaning company to be an accredited Living Wage employer and B Corp certified!
Stories of abandonment are rife in the cleaning world, we hear them all the time. At a sales pitch, we heard the story of a cleaner who turned up to the site, only to find out from the client that the company they worked for had withdrawn their services with immediate effect. The cleaner, however, hadn’t been told. They were abandoned by their employer with not so much as a text or a call!
The story develops… the client was in a state of panic, as their lovely offices were not getting cleaned, and so brought us in to tender. I asked how much they were paying for their previous cleaning, and I was informed that they paid just over £10 per hour (for reference we charge £20.90 per hour).
We did the maths together and once we had factored in profit margin, products, equipment, contribution to overheads etc the client suddenly realised how little their cleaner was taking home of that £10. The cleaner was a middle-aged man working in central London on maybe as a little as £5 per hour.
[An aside…. But I am delighted to say they are now a Clean for Good client, and the cleaners (2 of them) are working more hours and getting paid £11.95 (so probably more than double) for every hour worked. Good news!]
So who was this cleaning firm, a bunch of cowboys we assumed! No. This was a large, well known cleaning company, turning over millions of pounds each year in revenue. Shocking story….but not uncommon!
Clean for Good has recently become B Corp accredited. No idea what B Corp means? In short, it is an assessment (a long and painful one) that looks at all of our processes to see if they meet certain environmental and social standards. We passed! This has been a real encouragement to us, because not only do we want to be passionate about our social purpose, we want our faith to outwork itself in the highest of standards. We have a vision to transform the way cleaning is done in London and across the UK for good. Check out our blog here if you want to read more.
There were many reasons we wanted to get the B Corp accreditation, but chief amongst them was alignment with the B Corp movement that profit maximisation is not our primary goal as a business.
Why? Well we know the theory, (I happened to study it at university) that businesses in the private sector operate to maximise profit, to provide the biggest return we can for our investors, to maximise shareholder wealth. But the outworking of that theory provides toxic incentives, people jobs become reduced to lines in spreadsheets and leads to low wages and worse often nasty, and dehumanising practices. Here are a couple of stats:
- 1 in 5 workers in London* (c700,000) so people who are in work, are living in poverty. They are paid less than the London Living Wage.
- The LLW is £11.95 per an hour – you can’t live on less than that, it just doesn’t work in London.
- 76% of children in poverty in London are in working families. It’s a crisis, a massive one.
At Clean for Good our vision is to be a completely different kind of cleaning company, and one that provides a systemic solution to the above problems of low pay, and exploitative practices.
To see or not to see? If you are in London, we have a photo exhibition up at St Katherine Cree Church. Do come and read the stories of our staff up close and personal!
*The London Living wage is currently £11.95 per hour, find out more about it: Living Wage Foundation | For the real cost of living
About the Author : Charlie is a chartered accountant, having done his training in the city with Moore Stephens an audit and consultancy firm. He has since worked at Tearfund, an international relief and development charity, overseeing the finances of their West Africa team. This involved lots of travel across several countries in region setting up, supporting and establishing the relief work happening on the ground. From there Charlie moved to the Church Mission Society where he was Finance & Corporate Services Director for 6 years, before taking on the role of MD at Clean for Good, an ethical cleaning company working in central London, In January 2022. He loves anything which involves the outdoors, hills or a ball. He is married to Susie and they have 3 kids.
Take Action : Do you seek justice and the welfare and dignity of your neighbours – locally and globally – through the products and services you buy? JustMoney Movement has produced an ethical purchasing guide for churches, which includes a case study from Clean for Good. Find it here.
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