What does this imperative mean?
Rising inequality is perhaps the most visible sign of our broken economic system. In order to achieve economic system change, our goal must be to target all forms of inequity, including racial and ethnic injustices. We need to provide people everywhere with the tools and resources to live with dignity, the ability to provide for their loved ones and the desire to contribute to the common good. We need healthy jobs that offer a living wage and meet basic needs of health, education and wellbeing.
To achieve this, we have to create and invest in pathways for people to achieve their full potential. We need to build a now-and-next generation of leaders who represent who “we” are. Ownership and investment need to become more accessible, creating greater influence and power for people currently excluded from opportunities and markets. Financial inclusion is a critical component of an inclusive economy that serves all people.
We also need to be deliberate in our use of technology, ensuring that it distributes rather than concentrates power, and increases rather than diminishes human rights and freedoms. Above all, we need technology, big data and the digitalisation of our economy to foster opportunity, freedom and equity. It is these very conditions and principles that are presently at risk, as we increasingly use and depend on technology for all aspects of our economy. Seen from 2020, the governance of technology will prove decisive for the fate of democracy — and for the economic systems that benefit from democratic values.
What are some examples?
Below is an indicative list of allies, initiatives and projects that demonstrate investing for justice.
- Common Future works on sustainable and equitable economies for all, tackling the issues of systemic racism and the wealth gap directly. One focus is on investing in the community, where it has moved more than US $250 million. Common Future offers cohort learning, Common Futures fellows, and a program on social entrepreneurship, among other activities. It is active in more than 100 communities across the US and Canada. https://www.commonfuture.co/
- Mastercard Financial Inclusion
Mastercard has pledged to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. Built on public private partnerships, their Lab for Financial inclusion oversees part of this work. One such initiative is the Mastercard Farmer Network in East Africa and India. It aims to connect small holder farmers, who face barriers to improving their livelihoods and managing risk, to markets and formal financial services. The MFN platform creates digital payments, workflows and financial histories for farmers, and digitizes marketplaces to improve efficiency in the agricultural value chain and better connect farmers, producer organisations, buyers, financial institutions and service providers. https://www.mastercard.us/en-us/vision/corp-responsibility/social-sustainability/the-mastercard-labs-for-financial-inclusion.html
- The Global Network Initiative (GNI): GNI brings together academics, civil society organizations, businesses and other actors from around the world to address key issues at the intersection of technology and human rights. The Initiative’s work is based on co-developed GNI principles, which guide members in their responsible use of ICT solutions. Members are regularly assessed for their progress in applying those principles to their organizations. https://globalnetworkinitiative.org/
What tools are already available?
Below is an indicative list of tools that can help business and others realize this imperative.
- The Gender Diversity Pledge: Originally designed for STEM companies, but replicable to other sectors, the Pledge is both a demonstration of commitment for gender diversity and a series of 12 steps that companies can take to increase gender diversity in their organization. The Pledge also includes a reporting template to keep track of progress within the organization. Through this tool companies can give greater representation and voice to women in their teams https://www.genderdiversitypledge.com
- The B Team CEO guide on Gender Balance and Inclusive Cultures offers motivation and guidance on how leaders can champion gender balance, diversity and inclusion in their companies and beyond. It takes a unique approach by encouraging CEOs to combine a personal commitment to inclusivity with specific business tactics to transform their organizations.
- Algorithmic Justice League believes technology should serve all equally and is working toward equitable use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), raising public awareness of the social impact of AI, particularly its risk of bias. The Algorithmic Justice League uses art and research to reach a range of audiences, and has advocated in front of the US Congress on issues such as facial recognition, face surveillance and misuse of algorithms. https://www.ajl.org/
- RaceForward offers a Racial Equity Impact Assessment toolkit, featuring a ten point framework to help organisations develop their own tool. https://www.raceforward.org/sites/default/files/RacialJusticeImpactAssessment v5.pdf
- Living Wage Methodologies and Campaigns
Living Wage campaigns have emerged around the world as a response to the ways low pay has allowed poverty and inequality to continue to hold back working people, their families and the economy. These campaigns, many of which include methodologies for calculating a living wage locally, demonstrate how wages that meet the cost of living enable households to live with dignity and participate as active citizens in their communities. Some examples include: Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, UK.
- Poverty Footprint: Developed by the UNGC and Oxfam International, the Poverty Footprint methodology is designed to allow businesses working with Civil Society Organisations to assess the impacts of their activities on people and poverty. The framework seeks to identify ways partners can minimize negative impacts and enhance positive contributions to poverty eradication, while providing a common framework that facilitates collaboration between organizations working to tackle inequality https://d306pr3pise04h.cloudfront.net/docs/issues_doc%2Fhuman_rights%2FPovertyFootprint.pdf
What are some points of reference and inspiration?
Below are some sources of thought leadership on justice.
- UNDP’s Human Development Report 2019, Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: Inequalities in human development in the 21st century http://www.hdr.undp.org/en/2019-report
- JUST Capital measures and ranks US companies on the issues that matter most to the American public — to promote just corporate behavior. JUST provides regular polling of Americans and a well-known annual ranking based on more than 900 companies’ performance on issues related to workers, jobs, communities, and similar — creating the information necessary for investors to make informed choices, including on issues such as corporate response to COVID-19. https://justcapital.com/rankings/ https://www.consciouscapitalism.org/
- Oxfam’s annual reports on inequality, such as Time to Care (January 2020) that focused on rising inequality and gender bias, such as in the treatment of care workers. https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/time-care
- OECD Principles on AI: In 2019, OECD member countries set out a Recommendation of the Council on Artificial Intelligence, a set of principles that address the need for security, transparency and fairness in AI, with a clear acknowledgment of AI’s potential impact on society and the planet. In 2020, the OECD has now also launched a Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence.