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
  2. Shifting Costs and Risks
  3. Avoiding Taxes
  4. Prioritizing Payouts to Shareholders
  5. Putting Workers at Risk

Fighting inequality means radically reining in corporate power and creating an economy for all. This economic model must put people at the center, protect the most vulnerable, share profits equitably, and be grounded in democracy.

A fundamental change in business models is not utopian. Viable alternatives exist and continue to gain traction. Social enterprises, cooperatives, mission-led businesses, and fair trade enterprises are just a few examples of the diverse range of organizations that prioritize the interests of workers, farmers, communities, and the environment over returns to investors. The COVID-19 crisis can be a catalyst for real change so that all those who work are rewarded with profit to create an economy for all.

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