Fighting income inequality: the role business can play

By Michael Posner

Michael Posner

...the private sector needs to go beyond corporate charity and traditional social responsibility models, and embrace human rights as a fundamental business priority, that is fully integrated into their daily business operations.

In recent months, debates about global economic inequality have reached boiling point. In Britain, voters will soon decide whether to exit the European Union against the backdrop of a growing Brexit movement fuelled by perceptions of an unfair European trading system.

In the US, maverick political candidates of the left and right have garnered outsized attention, each attacking the adverse effects of global trade, especially with Asia. Almost three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union ushered in an era of globalisation, critics are demanding a reconsideration of that model. At the centre of these debates are global businesses that have assumed outsized influence and power over the last 30 years.

Before focusing on what large companies need do differently, it is instructive to acknowledge the progress they have helped engender. Since the early 1980s, a globalised economy has lifted literally billions of people out of extreme poverty. According to the World Bank, in 1980 77% of East Asians were living below the extreme poverty level.

Read the full article as published by The Conversation.
Michael Posner is a Professor of Business and Society and Co-Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.