News: Across the world, inequality still top concern

Leadership

Across the world, inequality still top concern

When leaders see something that has a "deep moral importance," they should be human and speak out, advises LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.
Across the world, inequality still top concern

From the lack of funding for more diverse businesses, to the impact of disinformation on consumers – the world's top business leaders gathered for the two-day Bloomberg Equality Summit this week to unpack the most critical global problems.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, for her part, demanded greater regulation across the world against disinformation spreading on platforms like Facebook. 

Ressa, who is CEO of Asia-Pacific media business Rappler, called out Facebook for being "biased against facts" and said the social network's news feed algorithm should be updated to allow credible news sources – and not fake news outlets – to reach audiences.

"This is like an atom bomb exploded in our information ecosystem because we can't tell facts from fiction," Ressa said in an interview that was aired at the Equality Summit.

Women's inequality still runs deep

Leaders also tackled the issue of gender inequality as a problem across countries. The global gender pay gap, for one, purportedly fails to factor in low-paid, and at times unpaid, domestic work among women. This creates a much deeper divide in the income of men and women, according to Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez of the International Labour Organization.

LinkedIn's chief economist Karin Kimbrough presented similar findings at the summit, highlighting how older women have had a tougher time returning to work. Health and safety concerns proved to be among the biggest obstacles. 

Among women over 40 who remained out of work, an average of seven in 10 have been jobless for a long while, according to an AARP study cited by Bloomberg.

Limited support for minority businesses and workers

More than 80% of S&P 100 companies pledged to improve racial diversity hiring in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter protests, which swept the US and other countries. Along with a greater recruitment drive was a promise to direct venture capital funding to a more diverse range of businesses.

"There's only been a fraction of those commitments that have actually made it into the hands of the populations that were selected," said Pippa Lamb at investment firm Sweet Capital.

Social justice and the boardroom

With employee activism and social movements like #MeToo gaining ground in the corporate world, do CEOs face a moral imperative to speak out? 

Business leaders are still divided over whether they should be vocal. 

"We weigh in when we can move the ball forward," said Land O' Lakes CEO Beth Ford, who has come out as gay. "Not everyone wants to hear my point of view or the companies on every issue."

But LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman takes a different view. 

"When you see something that has a deep moral importance, [be] human first and then speak out. Neutrality on morality topics is not really there," Hoffman said.

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Topics: Leadership, C-Suite, Culture

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