COVID-19 has laid bare the deep inequalities our economic model has fostered and thus is a major threat in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 10 (reducing inequalities). Business has a role to play in achieving SDG 10—but a recent Oxfam report highlights how big corporations are exacerbating rather than reducing inequality.

While the global pandemic saw devastating jobs losses of 400 million, nearly have a billion people are expected to be further pushed into poverty. But not everyone is losing out – billionaires have seen their incomes rise as shares in big corporations saw their profits jump. Power, Profits and the Pandemic: From corporate extraction for the few to an economy that works for all found five ways in which corporations are exacerbating inequality.

1. Shaping Public Policy: Corporate lobbying of government has been on the rise over the last two decades but COVID-19 spurred a near record first quarter lobbying spend by industry in the United States of $903 million.

2. Shifting Costs and Risks: While corporations see profits soar, they continue to place health risks and costs on their suppliers, many of which are in low-income countries.

3. Avoiding Taxes: The use of tax havens by big corporations has become ubiquitous.

4. Prioritizing Payouts to Shareholders: Despite tremendous growth by the Fortune Global 500 companies, wages have stayed stagnate and governments continue to be under-resourced.

5. Putting Workers at Risk: From meat processing to food retailers to delivery companies—employees are feeing unprotected and vulnerable due to insufficient equipment, benefits, or paid leave. Some companies have talked about front-line workers as heroes but have treated them as chattel, causing a backlash by some.

Read the full article about SDG 10 by Irit Tamir at Global Washington.