Sliding Doors – A Living Wage Blog

by Craig Hume, Utopia Computers

The end of the year marks a natural break in our work and personal lives and provides many, myself included, the time to reflect and plan for the year ahead. As I look back on 2022 with its many ups and downs, the recognition I received from Living Wage Scotland is my proudest achievement. In case you missed it, I collected the Outstanding Achievement award at the Living Wage Awards in Edinburgh and looking at the gorgeous hand-crafted award, I still have to pinch myself that it’s mine.

On the run-up to the big night, Rachel from the Living Wage Scotland team had let me know the good news and had asked if I could say a few words after accepting the trophy. This request turned out to be a gift, as just like the end of a year, it gave me permission to put some time aside and reflect on the many years that I’ve been involved in the Living Wage movement. My key takeaway? That joining the Living Wage movement was a Sliding Doors moment in my life. For those of you who are too young to remember, Sliding Doors was a 90’s movie whose plot revolved around the idea that there are critical moments in life when the decisions we make will forever change the trajectory of our lives.

Another moment like that for me was my first day at University. I walked into the lecture theatre and didn’t know anyone. There were some empty seats scattered around, and I took my chance with one beside a guy called Chris. This guy would turn out to be one of my best friends and, in the years ahead, go on to invite me to a bar where I would bump into a girl who I would fall in love with and ask to marry me. We would go on to have 3 kids and many adventures and end up running Utopia together. That moment, that choice of where to sit, really did change the course of my life.

When joining the Living Wage movement, I had no idea of all the positive outcomes that would come. At first, it was invitations to speak at the Scottish and UK Parliament about being a Living Wage employer, and then it was TV and radio interviews and even countless podcast discussions. More than all of these, however, was that it gave me the gift of unlocking much of the potential of my young employees. These young people had previously been paid the minimum, and we unlocked much of their potential with the Living Wage. No longer were they coming to work worried about bills and pay. This became the foundation for a company culture that has seen Utopia recognised across the UK for being innovative and inclusive.

More than all this, I’ve also been able to watch my team grow outside of work, with three of my team celebrating their 12th, 11th and 8th work anniversaries this year. Watching these guys get married, have kids, buy their first car, and their first dogs have been the greatest privilege of being a leader. This amazing retention of talent, in a time of silent quitting and the great resignation, is largely down to the power of the Living Wage.

As I write, times are once again challenging for many. I hope that, like Utopia, you will see the power of investing in your people. Making them feel secure and valued and, of course, paying the real Living Wage. For Utopia, it has been the key to so many of our successes.

Please get in touch if you’d ever like to learn more about Utopia’s journey or have questions about becoming a Living Wage employer.

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