Geneva, 10 September: On Wednesday 8 September, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) convened the first official commissioner meeting of the newly formed Business Commission to Tackle Inequality.
WBCSD announced the launch of the Business Commission to Tackle Inequality (BCTI) earlier this year as an initiative to mobilize the global business community to address escalating levels of inequality globally and generate shared prosperity for all.
The BCTI aims to bring inequality up to par with climate change in terms of attention and action from business. Drawing on WBCSD’s experience and broader work to understand the drivers of systems change, the BCTI will seek to put a number of key enablers for business action in place, including:
- A compelling common narrative about business’s role in driving inequality and rationale for tackling it
- A series of North Star goals for the global business community to rally around
- A strategic agenda prioritizing the actions business must take, supported by key government policy asks
- A platform for coordination and continued learning to support business action moving forward
The work of the BCTI will be supported and steered by its commissioners, a multi-stakeholder group of global leaders from business, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and academia who have committed to meet on a regular basis to guide the development of these enablers and to spearhead a movement around them, leveraging their personal and organizational networks and influence.
This inaugural meeting provided an opportunity for the BCTI’s nearly 30 commissioners to lay out their aspirations and expectations for this initiative in the months and years ahead, and to share their views around challenges that the BCTI will need to address in order to advance equity action by business at scale.
The BCTI will be continuing to grow its group of Commissioner in the months ahead with a view to embracing a range of diverse and critical perspectives to help guide its work program. The current Commissioners of the BCTI are as follows:
Mercedes Alonso, Executive Vice President, Neste
Peter Bakker, President & CEO, WBCSD
Noppadol Dej-Udom, Chief Sustainability Officer, C.P. Group
Lorena Dellagiovanna, Vice President and Executive Officer, Hitachi Ltd.
John Denton, Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce
Andreas Eggenberg, Chairman, Masisa
Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Founding & Managing Partners, Inclusive Capital Partners
Laurent Freixe, Chief Executive Officer Zone Americas, Nestlé
Lars-Erik Fridolfsson, People & Culture Leader, Inter IKEA Group
Gerbrand Haverkamp, Executive Director, World Benchmarking Alliance
Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever
Ilham Kadri, CEO, Solvay
Ute Klamert, Assistant Executive Director, World Food Programme
Satoru Kurosu, Chief Sustainability Officer, Yokogawa Electric Corporation
Jane Nelson, Director Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School
Michelle Nunn, President & CEO, CARE USA
Jacek Olczak, CEO, Philip Morris International
Peter Oosterveer, CEO, Arcadis
Luiz Eduardo Osorio, Executive Director of Sustainability, Communication, and IR, Vale International
Sanjiv Puri, Chairman & Managing Director, ITC Limited
Camille Putois, CEO, Business for Inclusive Growth
Caroline Rees, President & Co-founder, Shift
Carlos Sanvee, Secretary General, World Alliance of YMCAs
Siddharth Sharma, Group Chief Sustainability Officer, Tata Sons
Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO & Chief Change Catalyst, The B Team
Sally Uren, Chief Executive, Forum for the Future
Jorge Mario Velásquez, President & CEO, Grupo Argos
Sunny Verghese, Co-founder & Group CEO, Olam International Ltd.
Martin Whittaker, CEO, JUST Capital
Background: The need for a business commission to tackle inequality
Mounting levels of inequality and inequity represent one of the most pressing challenges facing our world today. Globally, people are being left behind and we are seeing increasingly wide swaths of people that are dissatisfied with their circumstances and pessimistic about their futures. Social cohesion is breaking down, trust in key institutions is eroding, and protest movements are gaining strength. For business, inequality is a great source of risk and missed opportunity. It limits productivity and innovation, constrains consumer spending and growth, destabilizes supply chains, breeds political instability, and jeopardizes license to operate.
Business, driven by our current model of capitalism, bears its share of responsibility for the systemic inequality we face today. Under pressure to increase profits and maximize shareholder returns, many companies have adopted business practices that have widened social and economic gaps. At this critical juncture, business can - and must - play its part in closing these gaps and generating inclusive growth that can be enjoyed by all.
Facets of this role are already being explored and advanced under a number of headings, such as diversity and inclusion, the operationalization of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the adoption of living wages. But to realize WBCSD’s vision of a world in which 9+ billion people can live well, within planetary boundaries, by mid-century, there is an urgent need to integrate, elevate, and accelerate these various strands of work as part of a compelling overarching narrative and agenda for business action on inequality. This is the need that the WBCSD and its partners are working to fill with the new Business Commission to Tackle Inequality (BCTI).
For more information on the BCTI please contact James Gomme, Director of People and Society at WBCSD (firstname.lastname@example.org).