Engaging Businesses in Local Efforts to Reduce Poverty (Part 3)

Resource Type: Audio Seminar || Speaker Jennifer Swanberg
Jennifer Swanberg

The 3rd of a four-part series, Jennifer Swanberg considers effective tactics for leveraging business and markets, creating employment opportunities and recognizing the realities faced by hourly wage workers.

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All across Canada, communities are creating multi-sector collaborations or networks to develop long-term, comprehensive approaches to reducing poverty. 

The local business community is a natural partner in this effort:

  • As Community Citizens: businesses can contribute financial, technical and human resources to community initiatives (e.g. community volunteers, grants to poverty reduction projects, joint marketing campaigns). 
  • As Employers: businesses can train and hire unemployed or underemployed workers, pay good wages, and offer supplementary employment benefits (e.g. child care, flexible work schedules). 
  • As Purchasers: businesses can buy goods and services from local enterprises that employ unemployed or underemployed workers (e.g. subcontract to a community training enterprise). 
  • As Producers: businesses can strive to ensure they provide quality services for low-income communities (e.g. financial services, housing, transportation). In order to tap into the enormous potential of the private sector to significantly reduce poverty, member communities in Vibrant Communities strive to develop a better understanding of how to build the case for business involvement and the specific strategies and techniques for engaging and sustaining businesses in poverty reduction work over the long term.

One day, two committed employees, working for the same company, experience a flat tire on their way to work. The full-time, well-paid employee, manages the mishap easily while the financial security and career prospects of the hourly, lower-wage employee are put at risk.

This story provides the background to the ground-breaking research initiative, Increasing the Visibility of the Invisible Workforce: Model Programs and Policies for Hourly and Lower Wage Employees. Sponsored by Corporate Voices for Working Families , and carried out by the Boston College Center for Work & Family, this report explores in-house programs of 15 companies from a variety of sectors designed explicitly to improve the work-life for a critical component of their workforce.

This podcast features Jennifer Swanberg, co-author of the report, and explores the highlights of the study, including:

  • A Profile of Hourly & Low Wage Workers
  • The Value of Hourly & Low Wage Workers to Companies
  • The Issues Faced by Hourly and Low Wage Employees
  • The Five Different Models - Dependent Care, Employee Development, Financial Assistance, Financial Incentives, and Scheduling/Leaves - and the business case for each of them
  • Obstacles to Designing and Implementing Programs
  • Lessons Learned & Recommendations for Companies Considering Such Programs

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