Inequality is a risk for companies by Philippe Heim & Bertrand Badré

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Managing the fallout from recent global crises will require not only solidarity and collective action, but also a stronger commitment to reducing inequality in all its forms. But governments can’t do everything, while businesses – especially banks and financial institutions – will have to do more.

PARIS – “We live in a more shock-prone world,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva recently observed, “and we need collective strength to deal with future shocks.” She’s right. In the space of just a few weeks, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already shifted geopolitical lines, plunging the world into widespread uncertainty and opening new diplomatic rifts. Societies will have to redefine their choices to take into account new global dynamics affecting fundamental issues such as food, energy, digital security and the organization of world trade.

Although globalization is not coming to an imminent end, its acute vulnerabilities have certainly been exposed. Structural changes in the way business is conducted are already materializing, as evidenced by the complex reorganization of manufacturing infrastructure associated with proximity and relocation. Businesses and governments are assessing their dependencies.

In such a challenging environment, building collective resilience is of utmost importance. But this will require political solidarity and cooperation at all levels: global, supranational (especially in Europe), national, and between business, government and civil society. Success will depend on our ability to ensure not only energy and food security, but also equity and justice in decision-making. After all, existing inequalities have continued to grow, undermining the capacity for collective action. We will have to put aside arguments about the pros and cons of globalization and start working towards a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

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