The combined impacts of global crises we are facing have pushed social and economic progress backward everywhere. Now more than ever, it is time to make social justice a reality for all. People need jobs, living wages, social security and respect for their worker rights. The good news is that there’s a lot companies can do. We’ve put together a quick list of 12 questions you can ask yourself as a business leader to boost social justice in your operating context.
Social justice refers to the equitable distribution of resources among people and countries, economic and social well-being for everyone, decent jobs with sustainable living wages, and equal access to positions of power and influence.
For businesses, social justice is all about the “S” in ESG, the social dimension of sustainability. It is an opportunity for action on the people-centered Sustainable Development Goals (did you know that more than half of the 17 SDGs have a social focus?).
There are many steps your business can take to spearhead social justice. Start by asking the right questions. Below, we give you some ideas.
- How well does your company’s operational staff, CEO, directors, managers and board reflect the diversity of society? Where can you do better?
- How many people did you hire in the last couple of years that do not look like you, don’t come from the same country or region and don’t have the same social and economic background?
- What is your company doing to make room for people with disabilities? Can it do more?
- Can the people with the lowest wages in your company afford to pay the rising cost of groceries, health and schooling – and have enough money left to live a decent life?
- How much can the CEO and top executives who receive the highest compensations flatten their pay to benefit minimum wage workers, while still living comfortably?
- Do all women and men in your company get equal pay for equal work?
- If revenues and profit margins grow, how is this increased wealth shared with workers and communities?
- Do you and your team know what social justice, human rights, equality, and related concepts exactly mean, and how they translate into concrete actions?
- Does your business include results indicators related to social justice in its worker performance reviews?
- What does your business do for its workers’ emotional wellbeing, mental health, and their sense of purpose and belonging in the organization? Is it enough?
- Are you certain the companies you source from pay their workers well, respect their rights and freedoms, and offer a safe and healthy working environment?
- Does your business speak out publicly against discrimination, violence and expression, xenophobia, or other threats to social justice in society?
This list is by no means exhaustive, and depending on your specific context, some questions may be more urgent than others.
Even if your company is already on the right track, we recommend you repeat this pulse-check every six or twelve months. Whenever you do so, keep these three follow-up questions in mind for each aspect under revision: • Are we doing enough? • What else can we do? • How can we do it better?
Setbacks occur and even if the curve goes upwards, there is always room for improvement.
“Striving for social justice is the most valuable thing to do in life.”
Each year, on February 20, we celebrate World Day of Social Justice. Find more celebrations and awareness days on the FairChange People & Planet Calendar (download it for free!)