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Antoinette in Woman Magazine

#BreakTheBias: Creating Change for Women in Cleaning

The theme of  International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. We are invited to imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination; a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. 

When we see #BreakTheBias, the conversation can often focus on the lack of women in the boardroom, or in senior leadership positions. We can talk about the need to support women and girls to aspire to exciting, highly paid careers in traditionally male-dominated sectors such as tech and engineering. We might discuss the gender balance in local and national government. 

However, achieving equality is also about bringing about change in those industries where women are currently over-represented, and often exploited. Like the cleaning industry.

A Good Day’s Pay for a Good Day’s Work

Cleaning is often perceived as low skilled, low status work.  It may not be the type of work we aspire to. It might sometimes be messy, or unpleasant. But the pandemic showed us all too clearly that cleaners, like care staff, and shop and transport workers, are truly key to our society. This work is vital, and the people who do it deserve respect, decent conditions, and fair pay. And those people are often women. 

Just Helpers was founded out of a passion to end the exploitation of vulnerable people in our communities. I saw first hand how migrant workers, particularly women, experienced low pay and poor conditions. This could mean holding down several jobs and working long hours, just to make ends meet.

At Just Helpers all of our people receive the London Living Wage, – the only UK hourly rate based on real living costs. Sadly this is rare in our industry, but we are campaigning for it to become the norm.

Our Vision: Where every cleaner in the UK gets paid the real living wage and the rest of the world follows suit.  

Achieving Potential

We support the aims of #BreakTheBias to achieve a level playing field by tackling discrimination. A level playing field also means fair and decent pay, to give women the space, energy and choice to focus on their aspirations.

As well as paying fairly, we want to give our people the opportunity and confidence to achieve their potential. Most of our managers started out as Helpers (they are much more than cleaners) – and progressed through training, support and mentoring.

Our team take pride in their work, whether as a Helper or a manager. We provide ongoing training, encourage the sharing of expertise, and reward excellence through our “Helper of the Month” programme. 

In the cleaning industry, 69% of all workers are women, while the majority of management positions, which attract higher pay, are occupied by men. We are leading the way on redressing this balance, by supporting women to take leadership roles within our business.

Leading the Way

Of course, it’s not enough to be sure that our own Helpers are paid fairly. We want to be a catalyst for change across the cleaning industry, and beyond. That’s why I am active in business communities, forging connections and speaking about how to grow a profitable and ethical business. We are proud to be a Living Wage Affiliate. We are working with partner businesses such as our commercial cleaning running mate Clean For Good to showcase what is possible in the cleaning sector. Plus, we are campaigning to change the tax system which makes it so difficult for cleaning businesses to be both profitable and to pay fairly.

Be the Change you Want to See

We want to make it easy for businesses and individuals to do the right thing. We offer excellent, high quality commercial and domestic cleaning across London. As a Just Helpers client, you can be confident that your Helper is being paid fairly and your space will be sparkling clean too. By booking your cleaning with Just Helpers, you really are helping to change the world one clean at a time. 

So for this International Women’s Day, we invite you to remember that the battle to #BreaktheBias is not just in the boardroom, or the C-Suite. It’s not just about equal pay, vital though that is. It’s also about pay and working conditions which end the exploitation of women, enable them to have choices, and achieve their potential and aspirations, whatever they may be. 

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