Our world today is marked by mounting inequality, which poses a systemic risk that threatens societies and economies. The distribution of income and wealth worldwide is unequal, with the top 10% of earners taking home 52% of total global pay, leaving hundreds of millions of people struggling to meet their basic needs.
It is eroding trust in our political and economic systems, fueling civil unrest and polarization, constraining economic growth, and undermining our collective capacity to tackle complex global challenges. Fortunately, inequality is not a fact of nature, but a product of our systems, which we can change.
Governments have a central role to play in driving this agenda but other stakeholder groups including businesses, investors, and civil society more broadly also have vital contributions to make. The private sector has fueled innovation, wealth creation, and rising living standards over the course of centuries. However, in recent decades, certain business models and practices have contributed to widening social and economic gaps. We must now harness the power of market economies to address these gaps and improve outcomes.
IDH is one of the organizations supporting the Business Commission to Tackle Inequality (BCTI), convened by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Their new report, “Tackling inequality: An agenda for business action”, provides a clear case for business action to tackle the systemic risk of mounting inequality. It includes a comprehensive action agenda that business leaders can leverage to help build a world of opportunity for all.
The BCTI’s Commissioners have spent the last 18 months identifying the most powerful tools that businesses across all sectors have at their disposal to distribute value and opportunity more equitably and to head off the risks posed by mounting inequality. These were translated into ten high-level action points:
- Implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
- Make essential products and services more accessible and affordable
- Create a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and value chain
- Prepare people for the future of work
- Provide safe, secure and sufficient work
- Pay and promote living wages and incomes
- Support and respect worker representation
- Support effective public policy
- Adopt responsible tax practices
- Realize the just transition to a net-zero and nature-positive economy
For IDH, achieving a living wage or living income is critical to tackle inequality globally, and tackling inequality is key to increase environmental sustainability. We work on these topics through our Roadmaps: