By Quentin Roach, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain & Chief Procurement Officer, Mondelēz International
The ongoing global social unrest – sparked by overt injustices inflicted on blacks in the USA – must create the inflection point for fairness, equity and justice that has escaped our world to date. Justice, simply stated, is the guiding principle by which people know right from wrong no matter the culture or society from which they come. One of four moral philosophy cardinal virtues – (with prudence, temperance and courage) and along with religious virtues of faith, hope and charity – it serves to heighten the independence and dignity of every person. Aiming to ensure everyone is given their just due – but agreeing what is due seems to be the difficulty.
Here in the United States, the largest world economy (nominal GDP nearly $21 trillion), over 40.6 million people live in poverty. The burden of poverty is crushing to anyone impacted, but its effect is dramatically uneven across race, education levels, differently-abled and age groups. This is seen in the poverty rate for children (16.8%), the disabled (25.7%), and those without a high school diploma (25.9%); and in rates by race where blacks (20.8%), LatinX (17.6%), Asians (10.1%), and non-Hispanic whites (8.1%) are more greatly impacted by poverty. Further troubling, greater than 45% of those living in poverty meet the Census Bureau definition for deep poverty. This creates further impacts to educational opportunities, healthcare disparities, criminal justice system fairness and creating further generational chasms. This is not fair, not equitable and simply shows that too many people are not receiving their just due – and are being denied the ability to create it on their own! We can do better.
The role of government or corporate organizations – in advancing (or their history of hindering) fairness, equity and justice has intensified. One exemplar statistic in the UK shows there are more than five million people working in jobs that are below their skill level. Meaning they are not earning what they could and are not reaching economic justice – the productive potential of the economy is held back because of it. Importantly, sustainable growth matters because a declining economy hits the poorest hardest and further exasperates the imbalances. Clearly, governments and businesses can be critical in creating the needed change in social justice. Particularly, corporations must lead the way in creating economic justice; seizing the opportunity to collaborate and deliver for the greater good while driving fairness in business opportunity and access to jobs for those that have too often been denied a chance. Economic justice is created when all participate through equal opportunities for credit, income and wealth creation … regardless of race or gender … and are enabled in pursuing their full potential. Economic justice across generations must be also be pursued to ensure the economic promise of rising living standards for successive generations. We can do better.
One aspect for corporations and businesses to lead economic justice is through Economic Inclusion & Supplier Diversity – ensuring inclusive business practices that provide an equal opportunity to business participation for disadvantaged and previously excluded businesses (many small and medium sized – majority of which are owned by women and traditionally excluded ethnic groups and races) to be growth drivers in employment, income generation, tax base and economic empowerment. Working in partnership with these businesses will help to ensure fair wages, safe work places, and build sustainable communities for people to live, work, grow and thrive. Corporations can have a great impact through this focused and mindful approach to doing business with diverse businesses. We can do better.
This is not about charity but about fairness, equal opportunity, justice and growing economies – we must aim to deliver significant impact on society by creating wealth through employment and incomes; enhancing tax bases that will improve educational systems; supporting community growth that will improve healthcare systems; and providing dignity that lifts spirits, families and generations.
We can do better. We must do better, urgently.