Home / Companies / News /  Income inequality within countries got worse amid Covid, says Unilever CEO

Unilever global CEO Alan Jope on Tuesday said the Coronavirus pandemic exacerbated income inequality within and between countries. However, he highlighted that the gap between the rich and poor remains unacceptably wide despite income inequality between countries improving over the last 25 years. Jope believes companies need to play their part to address the issue as businesses cannot thrive in fractured and broken societies.

In a video message at the FICCI LEADS 2022 event, Jope said, 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 world's richest and poorest countries remains unacceptably wide, as reported by PTI.

He emphasized that the income inequality within countries has got worse.

According to Jope, nearly three-quarters of the world's population is currently living in countries where income inequality has surged in that country in recent years, adding that the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. He cited IMF data which showed that about 120 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty as a result of COVID-19.

The inflationary pressure currently that is being faced globally, is expected to only amplify the economic disparities within and between countries. Highlighting one cannot simply stand idly by, Jope added that business cannot thrive in societies that are fractured and broken.

In Jope's view, companies have a role in building a more equitable and inclusive society.

Talking about Unilever's efforts in addressing the issue, Jope stated that the actions they are taking are to ensure everyone who provides goods and services to Unilever gets to earn at least a living wage or living income by 2030. The London-based consumer goods company has already achieved this for all of its direct employees. Now, the focus has shifted towards its extended value chain.

Jope revealed that tens of thousands of smallholder farmers and hundreds of thousands of people working in the company's distribution operations are likely to benefit from this initiative.

Unilever's CEO advises other companies as well to make the same commitment to a fair living wage.

Unilever is also focused on addressing the issue of inequality emanating from discrimination by gender, age, origin, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, class, and religion, Jop exclaimed.

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