Field Notes: Six Ways for Business to Address Inequality

The Aspen Institute's Judy Samuelson and Maureen Conway detail six steps that corporations can take to advance equity for their employees and society.


With studies showing decades of wage stagnation for most workers despite huge executive income growth, it is no surprise that, according to the LA Times, income inequality is proving to be a key issue in the upcoming presidential election for both parties. As companies like Aetna, Apple and even Walmart transition to more fair wage standards, the Aspen Institute's Maureen Conway and Judith Samuelson weighed in with some recommendations to "keeping the ball rolling" on equity in the workplace. However, as we highlighted in a previous post, there is more to improving job quality than just wage increases. Read the Aspen Institute’s recommendations below:

  1. Consider the needs of your employees in designing work schedules. A less noticed, but perhaps more valuable change for Wal-Mart’s hourly workers is the promise of more consistent and predictable work schedules.
  2. Get interested in the pay of your company’s hidden workers. The use of contract workers for jobs that used to be on the payroll — from cleaning offices to running data centers — is the next place to look for substandard wages and working conditions.  
  3. Take a fresh look at who earns the stock options and equity incentives. Using stock-based pay to reward top managers is now standard operating procedure in Corporate America. 
  4. And while you are at it — how much equity is too much? Runaway executive compensation is an outsized contributor to inequality.
  5. Apply common-sense pay brackets that honor the contributions of all—and eliminate CEO “peer” benchmarks. Corporations too often fail to consider internal dynamics when setting executive compensation.
  6. Stop playing along with race-to-the-bottom payoffs for relocating jobs. Corporations, Aetna included, expect tax breaks from local governments for adding or retaining jobs in their jurisdictions.

You can read the recommendation in full detail here. Click here for more quick reads featuring interesting articles on philanthropy and impact investing.

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