Covid exacerbated income inequality within and between countries: Unilever CEO

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Covid pandemic has exacerbated income inequality within and between countries and companies need to play their part to address the issue as business cannot thrive in fractured and broken societies, Unilever global CEO Alan Jope said on Tuesday.

Although income inequality between countries has mostly improved over the last 25 years, largely by lifting hundreds of millions of families in Asia out of poverty, the gap between the worlds richest and poorest countries remains unacceptably wide, he said in a video message at the FICCI LEADS 2022 event here.

“…even more pressing is the reality that income inequality within countries has got worse. In fact, nearly three quarters of the worlds population now lives in countries where income inequality has increased in that country in recent years and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem,” Jope lamented.

According to IMF, 120 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty as a result of COVID-19, he added.

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“And the extraordinary levels of inflation that were now experiencing are only going to amplify the economic disparities within and between countries and we cannot stand idly by. Business cannot thrive in societies that are fractured and broken,” Jope asserted.

Companies have a role in building a more equitable and a more inclusive society and as part of Unilevers efforts to address the issue, he said, “One of the most powerful actions that were taking is to make sure that everyone who provides goods and services to Unilever will earn at least a living wage or living income by 2030.” Unilever has already achieved this for all of its direct employees and the focus is on its extended value chain. Tens of thousands of smallholder farmers and hundreds of thousands of people working in the companys distribution operations should benefit from this initiative, Jope added.

“Were calling on other companies to make the same commitment to a fair living wage,” he said.

Jope said Unilever has also focussed on addressing the issue of inequality emanating from discrimination by gender, age, origin, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, class and religion, which is “depriving millions of people have a fair chance at a better life”.


(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)

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