4 ways to deliver social justice during the COVID-19 recovery

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Berit Gleixner, Community Lead, Civil Society, World Economic Forum & Natalie Cilem, Community Specialist, Civil Society, World Economic Forum

The COVID-19 virus has exposed, fed off and increased existing inequalities of wealth, gender and race. The economic and social disruptions created by the pandemic are severe, and addressing them is urgent to ensure that the recovery does not take us back to the status quo.

Last month, leaders across business, civil society and government came together for the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda week held under the theme “A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust”. In times of uncertainty, turbulence and volatility, high levels of trust and a sense of belonging are key to holding our societies together and building the resilience needed to move forward as a collective.

The pandemic threatens to reverse the march towards equality
The pandemic threatens to reverse the march towards equality. Image: IMF

Achieving social justice, identifying and addressing systemic inequalities must be a priority for all sectors with the pandemic threatening the biggest rise in inequality since records began. What policies, practices and partnerships are needed to ensure a just recovery in the decade of delivery?

Here are four key takeaways from the #DA21 session “Delivering Social Justice in the Recovery”:

1. Equality at the heart of social justice and our economic strategies

During the session, Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International, emphasized: “Many of us think of inequality as something just for idealists or an inconvenience to the serious business of capitalism. Oxfam’s message is that equality is a fresh, moral and serious framework that can reshape the way we run our economies for the 21st century.”

Equality has the potential to drive us to achieve the global goals that governments around the world have agreed to. However, as Bucher emphasized, tinkering at the edges won’t do; ending extreme inequality and abolishing gender and racial injustice must be at the very core of our economic strategy.

2. Reorganize, reimagine and dismantle pre-COVID norms and structures

If capitalism is to be sustained, we must deliberately put a nail in the coffin of the Friedman ideology that allowed and propelled the kind of inequality we witness today. Stakeholder capitalism, “a form of capitalism in which companies seek long-term value creation by considering the needs of all their stakeholders, and society at large” must become the new business as usual, according to Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

This also requires that many of the norms, structures and understandings of the pre-COVID world must be reorganized, reimagined and dismantled. In the words of Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation: “The issue of white supremacy and patriarchy must be acknowledged in the boardroom as part of a diagnosis of recovery. Without acknowledging it, we will engage in performative acts; we now have to ask ourselves how to move beyond statements.”

The Ford Foundation has committed $330 million funds for racial justice work over the course of 2020-2021, making it one of the largest investments in racial equity work in the US. Such an unprecedented investment signals a movement beyond the statements of Black Lives Matter to creating actionable change.

One area the Ford Foundation has committed to supporting is the “future of workers”, underscoring a human-centred approach to policy efforts around the future of work. In the US, business as usual has left employees without basic social safety nets like paid sick leave and has left workers out of equity generating policies like employee stock ownership. A future where workers are at the centre of public policy debates would create tangible pathways to tackling the “compounding disadvantages of frontline and essential workers” in our system.

3. Cities as vehicles for social justice

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, called for targeted public policy efforts and investments from the public and private sectors and civil society in endeavouring to transform cities into more equitable places. Indeed, the proportion of the global population residing in urban areas is projected to grow from 77% in 2000 to 84% in 2030, making cities important vehicles to achieve more just societies.

Cities are an ideal place to push just recovery policies and partnerships because they are made up of diverse communities and thinking, and have been the epicentre of progressive politics and anti-populist movements in the 21st century. Mayor Khan pointed out that even in a city as progressive as London, the pandemic has done more than laid bare the structural inequalities facing society – it has exacerbated them. “We have to use this pandemic as an opportunity to reset and reboot our economies across the globe, and that means not just for government but also civic society, the business community, the faith community and others, to work together to address the inequalities we have talked about for too many years,” Khan said.

Cities are both more inequal and more progressive than rural communities
Cities are both more unequal and more progressive than rural communities. Image: OECD

In 2020, the City of London declared itself an anti-racist body. The Mayor asserted that the Black Lives Matter movement, which reached across the Atlantic and spread around the world, was so globally resonant because the effects of structural inequality and injustice touches all societies. In looking towards a just recovery, targeted public policy efforts and multistakeholder partnerships are essential to building inroads into tackling injustice and inequity in major cities and beyond.

4. Address issues of social justice in a collaborative and integrated manner

Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Chairman and President of the Tiffany & Co Foundation and Chief Sustainability Officer at Tiffany & Co, said no one can afford to think or work in a silo. The business community has to address issues such as equity, social and environmental justice in a collaborative and integrated manner. For business to authentically contribute to a just recovery, they need to listen to the voice of civil society and those most affected, giving them not just a seat at the table, but inviting them to co-create that future. “It is critical that business backs up their words with action, it is not simply about speaking out but about authenticity,” says Costa.

According to recent findings of Edelman’s Trust Barometer, the pandemic has spurred trust in business, observing declined levels of trust in both civil society and government. This comes with an increased demand for CEOs to lead on societal issues.

Pressure is building on business to lead on social justice
Pressure is building on business to lead on social justice Image: Edelman’s Trust Barometer

Through its Platform for Global Public Goods, the World Economic Forum is accelerating collective evidence and action on social justice, sustainability and the SDGs. As part of its Lighthouse Projects on Social Justice and Sustainability, the Forum will be gathering examples of how business, government and civil society are taking integrated approaches to social justice and sustainability, and driving multistakeholder coalitions in supporting vulnerable communities towards the SDGs.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about diversity, equity and inclusion?

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent social and political unrest have created a profound sense of urgency for companies to actively work to tackle inequity.

The Forum’s work on Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Social Justice is driven by the New Economy and Society Platform, which is focused on building prosperous, inclusive and just economies and societies. In addition to its work on economic growth, revival and transformation, work, wages and job creation, and education, skills and learning, the Platform takes an integrated and holistic approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, and aims to tackle exclusion, bias and discrimination related to race, gender, ability, sexual orientation and all other forms of human diversity.

The Platform produces data, standards and insights, such as the Global Gender Gap Report and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 4.0 Toolkit, and drives or supports action initiatives, such as Partnering for Racial Justice in Business, The Valuable 500 – Closing the Disability Inclusion Gap, Hardwiring Gender Parity in the Future of Work, Closing the Gender Gap Country Accelerators, the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality, the Community of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers and the Global Future Council on Equity and Social Justice.

The next critical juncture identified to ensure social justice post-COVID-19 is the distribution of a vaccine that is fair and needs-based – a #PeoplesVaccine available to everyone, free of charge and distributed fairly.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The US Congress and European Parliament vote are TTIP’s 10th round’s lucky cards

115 rejections and no pay. What it really takes to be an entrepreneur

Coronavirus is creating retirement insecurity. These 10 steps can diffuse the timebomb of an ageing population

What we need is more (and better) multilateralism, not less

Global climate change: consequences for human health in Brazilian cities

How a trade war would impact global growth

In an era of global uncertainty, the SDGs can be our guide

Rule of Law: Commission launches infringement procedure to protect the independence of the Polish Supreme Court

‘Stay together and step up’ action to meet Global Goals, ECOSOC President tells development forum

Tsipras imposes more austerity on insolvent Greece; plans to win new early election soon

European Council: Choosing new leaders for the EU betrays efforts for a wider arrangement

These countries are home to the highest proportion of refugees in the world

UNICEF chief hopes 2020 will be ‘a year of peace’ for Syria’s children

Is deflation a real danger for Eurozone?

Draghi joined Macron in telling Germany how Eurozone must be reformed

Will Eurozone be able to repay its debts? Is a bubble forming there?

Difficulties of vaccination against COVID-19

Why Opportunity Zones could be key to transforming our cities

Laws must protect, ‘not reject’ says UNAIDS chief on Zero Discrimination Day

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into compensation for early closure of lignite-fired power plants in Germany

Electronic cigarette: a still controversial qualitative imbalance

This Mexican company is making biofuel from cactus plants

Parliament mobilised to channel EU funds to those affected by Coronavirus pandemic

‘Terrorist Iranian regime’ must be checked; Saudi Foreign Minister urges financial pressure

MEPs propose measures to combat mobbing and sexual harassment

Afghanistan probe: ‘at least 60 civilians’ killed after US military airstrikes on alleged drug labs

EU mobilises €3 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti following devastating earthquake

Resiliency is the key to strong investments in a chaotic world

Beyond 2020: How the world might recover and rebuild, according to experts

Study: Trade supports over 36 million jobs across the EU

What are food crises and how many people are affected by them?

One million facing food shortages, nutrition crisis after Mozambique cyclones: UNICEF

Main results of EU Environment Council, 25/06/2018

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology supports the New European Bauhaus with €5 million

Why do medical students need to go abroad to become a doctor in 2017?

How blended finance helped to keep energy supplies flowing during COVID-19

Electric fleets can fuel decarbonisation efforts. Here’s how

The UN’s unyielding effort to tackle sexual abuse and exploitation: our quarterly update

This is how we can teach young people to use science and data to make better decisions

Human rights: MEPs want corruption punished under EU sanctions regime

Top officials say UN will support Bahamas’ rescue, relief efforts as Hurricane Dorian churns in Atlantic

Hurdles on creating effective vaccine campaigns against COVID-19

Raj Kumar’s new book offers a strategy for transforming the global aid industry. Here’s an excerpt

5 futuristic ways to fight cyber attacks

5 ways to be a better humanitarian

How income-sharing agreements can improve access to education

Friday’s Daily Brief: human rights in Sudan, sombre anniversaries for Rwanda and Nigeria, and fears of ‘chaos’ in Libya

Vaccination Campaigns and Fake News: a historic challenge

5 surprising ways digital technology is changing childhood

UN chief hails ‘very important role’ of Human Rights Council, as US withdraws, citing alleged bias

Have central banks missed the exit train?

Coldplay stop touring to save the world: is pop music going sustainable?

Reimagining education for refugees post-pandemic

COVID-19: Commission creates first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment

GSMA Announces Latest Event Updates for 2018 “Mobile World Congress Americas, in Partnership with CTIA”

What Merkel and Macron are to tell Trump in Davos?

To hope or doubt? The state of women’s progress in the world

Mexico needs a new strategy to boost growth, fight poverty and improve well-being for all

Greece returns to markets at a high cost to taxpayers, after four years out in the cold

AI-powered automation will have an ethnic bias

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: