The UK is one of the most unequal nations in the developed world – the seventh least equal in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
People on the UK national living wage would have to work 400 years to earn the annual average pay of a FTSE 100 chief executive – currently £5.8M. Inequality takes many other forms, but that financial contrast starkly illustrates the gulf that many feel has opened up in society.
The erosion of trust is a problem for businesses no less than politicians and government, with the potential to undermine shareholder confidence and the value of stocks. Businesses can build trust by taking steps to improve equality, for example:
- Putting workers on the company board and establishing workers’ councils.
- Recognising trade unions and consulting with workers.
- Paying the living wage and publishing pay ratio comparisons between top directors and workers.
- Recognising that socioeconomic background is a key part of diversity.
- Ensuring a diverse range of employees and developing their potential.
- Factoring an inequality impact assessment into every design brief to make sure infrastructure improves the life chances of the many.