Agencies back Real Living Wage Pledge to help more people start creative careers

Thirty-four UK agencies have pledged to pay all employees and interns a real living wage, in a bid to remove financial barriers to entering the creative industry.

Companies that have signed up to the Real Living Wage Pledge promise to pay anyone working for them or on their premises who is over the age of 18 – from interns to freelancers and cleaners – a wage of £10.20 per hour in London and £8.75 per hour outside the capital. 

These figures are calculated by the Living Wage Foundation based on cost of living and are higher than the government’s national living wage, which is £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over and will rise to £7.83 per hour on 1 April. 

The Real Living Wage Pledge is spearheaded by Wieden & Kennedy London and Creature, and supported by AAR, IPA, Oystercatchers, Grey London’s Diversity Taskforce and Campaign. The agencies that have already signed up include Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Droga5, Mother, Saatchi & Saatchi and VCCP (see full list below).

All participating companies will seek accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation. This initiative includes adults on work experience and internships, areas that are not currently covered by the LWF’s accreditation. 

Research by The Sutton Trust has shown that 31% of university graduates working as interns are doing so for no pay, while the monthly cost to an intern in London averages more than £1,000. The number of unpaid internships has doubled since 2010. 

"A simple thing we can all do to remove a barrier to entry to the industry is to ensure we pay people in entry level positions enough to live," said Helen Andrews, the managing director of Wieden & Kennedy London.

Dan Cullen-Shute, the chief executive and co-founder of Creature, said the initiative aims to help fix advertising’s diversity problem.

"We ask for relevant experience, and then too often haven’t paid people when they’re trying to get it, which means the doors to our industry are shut to people who can’t afford to work for free," he said. 

The 34 agencies that have signed the Real Living Wage Pledge are:  

1492
18 Feet & Rising
Above & Beyond
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
AnalogFolk
Anomaly
BJL
The Corner
Creature
Droga5
Essence
Everything Different
Grey London
Integer
Isobel
Lucky Generals
MBA
McCann London
MediaCom
Mindshare
Momentum
Mother
MRM Meteorite
MullenLowe London
Now
Saatchi & Saatchi
Sunshine
TBWA\London
Uncommon
VCCP
Wavemaker
WCRS
Wieden & Kennedy London
Y&R London