A new report underlines inequality as a systemic risk — one that business has a responsibility, and a powerful opportunity, to address through six action areas.
Geneva, 8 June 2022: A new report by the Business Commission to Tackle Inequality (BCTI), Tackling Inequality: The Urgent Need for Business Action, underlines mounting inequality as a critical systemic risk and makes the case for business to take urgent action to address it through six key areas.
This introductory report is the first output of the BCTI, a cross-sector, multi-stakeholder coalition of more than 60 organizations and their leaders, convened by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), with the mission to move inequality up the corporate agenda and mobilize private sector action to generate shared prosperity for all. The report reflects inputs from the BCTI’s commissioners who represent business, civil society, intergovernmental institutions, the labor movement, and the investor community.
The report underlines how wide disparities in income, wealth, and overall wellbeing, underpinned by deep, structural differences in the opportunities people have to achieve those outcomes, is giving rise to a cascade of consequences with dire implications for business and society. It points to mounting evidence that inequality is eroding social cohesion, diminishing trust in key institutions, fueling civil and political conflict, constraining economic growth, and leaving our societies incapable of tackling other pressing challenges, from COVID-19 to the climate emergency.
A clear business rationale is emerging for companies to use their assets and capabilities to level the playing field, create opportunities for all people, and ultimately narrow social and economic divides.
“Business has powerful levers at its disposal to help tackle inequality — and powerful reasons to use them.” said James Gomme, Director of Equity Action at WBCSD. “There is a fundamental shift underway in how business performance is perceived and measured. Maximizing value for shareholders at the expense of workers, communities, and societies is no longer smart business strategy. At this critical juncture, with the economic and social consequences of inequality deepening around the world, it is vital for business to show leadership and take practical action.”
The report outlines six broad areas in which business action will be critical to reducing inequality:
- Respecting human rights as the baseline requirements of a level playing field
- Enhancing access to essential products and services, such as education, healthcare, financial services, and digital infrastructure
- Creating jobs and economic opportunities for all, embracing diversity and inclusion while also navigating trends and disruptions like technological evolution and the transition to a net zero economy.
- Distributing value and risk equitably among shareholders, workers, and business partners at all levels of the organization and supply
- Enabling government action on inequality, for example through public policies and public services
- Accelerating action on addressing climate change and nature loss, which hit the most vulnerable the hardest
In the months ahead, the BCTI will be building on this high-level agenda, working to define the specific actions that business must take in each of these six areas. The results will be published in a flagship report at the start of 2023. At the same time, the BCTI and its commissioners will also be using this process to identify a select number of opportunities to move from agenda-setting to catalyzing and supporting action at scale.
To explore opportunities to get involved in this work, please contact James Gomme, Director, Equity Action, WBCSD at email@example.com.
For more information visit the BCTI website.