SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

The 2030 Agenda calls for a “just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met” (SDG Knowledge Platform, 2016). This call comes at a time when, despite important gains made since 2000 in lifting people out of poverty, inequalities and large disparities remain in income and wealth, and in access to food, healthcare, education, land, clean water and other assets and resources essential for living a full and dignified life.  

The facts

Economic inequality is largely driven by the unequal ownership of capital. Since 1980, very large transfers of public to private wealth occurred in nearly all countries. The global wealth share of the top 1 percent was 33 percent in 2016. In addition, in 1980 the top 1 percent had 16 percent of global income, while the bottom 50 percent had 8 percent of income. In 2016, 22 percent of global income was received by the top 1 percent compared with 10 percent of income for the bottom 50 percent.

There is also inequality between the different genders. Women spend, on average, twice as much time on unpaid housework as men. Also, women have as much access to financial services as men in just 60 percent of the countries assessed and to land ownership in just 42 percent of the countries assessed (UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 10

Some groups including those in rural areas (e.g. family farmers), women, young people, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and others have persistently clustered at the bottom of distributions. Real wage growth has constantly declined since 2015 and at the same time, a warming climate, demographic change, decent work deficits, political crises, technological change and conflict risk exacerbating inequalities if actions are not taken toward equality in both opportunities and outcomes. Such inequalities can become self-perpetuating across generations, thus hindering progress towards one of the central objectives of the 2030 Agenda – that of ‘leaving no one behind’. Understanding that development is not sustainable if people are excluded from opportunities, services, and the chance for a better life; sustainable development goal ten (SDG 10) calls on the international community to “reduce inequality within and among countries”.

The 10 targets within SDG 10 cast a wide net to capture multiple drivers of inequality and to ensure that no group or individual is left behind. Four targets address within country inequality across social, economic and political dimensions aiming to expand prosperity, inclusion, and social protection. Three targets aim to reduce inequality among countries with attention to cross-border flows of finance and people and the distribution of voice in global institutions. Three other targets focus on the means of implementation and put forward concrete steps for attaining greater equality by directing resource flows toward those most in need (World Bank, 2019).

SDG 10 progress in Australia

In Australia, the period from 2000 to 2015 was characterised by strong economic growth that led to a substantial rise in average incomes. However, income increases did not lead to a reduction in income and wealth inequalities, with the Gini index – a common measure of inequality – remaining reasonably constant over this period. Using the Gini index, wealth inequality (0.6) is shown to be significantly higher than income inequality (0.3). Australia remains more unequal than most developed countries, limiting opportunities for many and undermining sustainable development.

Social exclusion fell prior to the global financial crisis, but has since increased. Unemployment benefits have fallen to be more than 20% below the poverty line. The gender pay gap has barely reduced in 20 years, and large gender inequalities remain at home, in the workplace and in society.

Since 2000, real disposable income per capita has grown by 29%, but there has been no increase over the last five years. As wages growth has slowed, many families struggle with rising energy and housing costs. There has been growth in employment and some fall in unemployment, but this has been offset partly by higher underemployment. Many Australians would like to work and earn more. For those workers with low skill levels, the opportunities to retrain throughout their working lives are limited, and home ownership is increasingly elusive for young people (Transforming Australia Report, 2018).

How is this relevant to business?

Addressing inequality makes good business sense because it increases economic participation and helps build markets and prosperity. Long term viability is only possible when the world is thriving, but the world cannot fully prosper when large population groups lack reasonable paths to success.  Diversity of background and experience within an organisation stimulates innovation and fresh thinking. It creates a more attractive work environment that in turn helps to attract and retain talent. Diversity can be thought of as a multi-faceted competitive advantage (GCNA Australia, 2018).

Equality and diversity are strategic business issues. It has been well demonstrated that businesses that embrace workplace diversity and inclusion are more innovative and outperform in organisational effectiveness and profitability. Corporate social responsibility is becoming a critical factor to a growing number of global investors and the capital markets.

Extract from joint letter from Australian business leaders in support of marriage equality to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (2017)

SDG Video

The video on SDG 10 is created by our CR3+ partner ISAE Brazilian Business School (ISAE). The video shows Rithyane Cardozo discussing SDG 10 and interviewing Marcia Ponce from the Caritas Institute and the work they do in Curitiba, Brazil. Caritas is an international organisation that fights issues of inequality. The interview is about how Caritas works towards SDG 10 by looking at economic inequality but also inequality because of environmental issues, and inequality for immigrants and refugees.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019. 

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9