Are the rich getting richer and the poor, poorer?
This is the next in our First Tuesdays series. We are looking forward to your joining our monthly sponsored awareness and educational series.
Economic inequality is a global issue – here are some tough questions this panel will discuss:
What is a working definition of “Economic Inequality”?
The UN poses that “Inequality—the state of not being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities—is a concept very much at the heart of social justice theories. However, it is prone to confusion in public debate as it tends to mean different things to different people. Today, the understanding of inequality has evolved from the traditional outcome-oriented view, whereby income is used as a proxy for well-being. The opportunity-oriented perspective acknowledges that circumstances of birth are essential to life outcomes and that equality of opportunity requires a fair starting point for all.”
United Nations Read more
Is it possible to pinpoint the causes of economic inequality?
“Some of key factors behind the increase in within-country income inequality noted in the literature include technological progress, globalization, commodity price cycles, and domestic economic policies such as redistributive fiscal policies, labor and product market policies.”
International Monetary Fund Read more
How is Economic Inequalty measured?
“The measurement of inequality usually focuses on measuring inequality in outcomes (income or wealth or health or some other measure of well-being), variously using differences between the highest and lowest outcomes or variation nearer the middle or some other part of the distribution. Measures such as the 90th percentile divided by the 10th percentile characterize the gap between very high outcomes and very low outcomes—for example, the wealth or income of the rich and the poor—but there are many other measures of that gap.”
Urban Institute Read more
What are the implications for business?
“Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of economic inequality has been the role that firms play in it. The best-performing companies seem to be pulling away from the rest, according to a growing body of research, and that fact explains a large part of the growth in inequality between individuals. The result, at least in developed nations, is a highly unequal corporate landscape, where some firms are incredibly productive and the amount of money a person makes is tied to the company they work for, not just the job that they do.”
Harvard Business Review Read more
Member of the Advisory Committee
Alex Hetherington is a seasoned corporate sustainability professional with 25-years’ experience in carbon accounting, climate scenario analysis and investor insight into market-related climate risks and opportunities. He has worked with clients in Africa, USA, UK, Europe, Middle East and Australia.
Originally trained as a journalist, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Politics from the University of Cape Town (1993), Alex took a MSc in Environmental Management from Imperial College, London (2004), and recently completed a CPA in Sustainable Finance and Investment from Columbia University in the city of New York (2021).
Having established himself as an early pioneer in corporate sustainability strategy, Alex co-founded Carbon
Calculated, a carbon management and climate change consultancy, which has worked with over thirty companies and brands across multiple geographies. He currently consults on investor understanding of climate risk and response.
As the President and Co-Founder of Shift, Caroline leads the organizational strategy and development. She drives the organization’s thought leadership work on key challenges and opportunities in advancing corporate respect for business and human rights. Caroline speaks extensively at events around the world and frequently facilitates dialogue and debate amongst companies, governments, investors and civil society.
In recent years, Caroline has focused on improving corporate human rights reporting as a catalyst for better human rights risk management, and on improving the data and methods used in evaluating companies’ social performance as part of ESG (environmental, social and governance) analysis. She has written and spoken extensively on the relevance of business respect for human rights, and the UNGPs specifically, to movements that seek to advance sustainability, equality, ESG investing, stakeholder capitalism, and human and social capital.
Caroline is a Commissioner on the BUSINESS COMMISSION TO TACKLE INEQUALITY, a member of the ADVISORY COMMITTEE OF THE INVESTOR ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, the Advisory Group to the Workforce Disclosure Initiative, the Advisory Council to Harvard Business School’s Impact Weighted Accounts Initiative and the Advisory Panel of the Capitals Coalition.
Caroline’s prior British foreign service career covered Iran, Slovakia, the UN Security Council in New York and the European Union in Brussels.
Caroline has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Oxford University and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Caroline is a British national and speaks English, French and German.
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