WBCSD hosts first Commissioner Meeting of the Business Commission to Tackle Inequality

top picture


10 September, 2021




Leaders from business, civil society and academia have come together to kick off a new initiative aimed at putting efforts to tackle systemic inequality at the heart of business’s agenda for sustainable growth

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 (gomme@wbcsd.org).