One of the biggest problems facing the 7.5 billion-plus people on this planet is quite simply income inequality.
Inequality.org has some interesting statistics on the issue within the United States. Yet the US population is only about 323 million people. That translates to 4% of the world population.
OECD.org realizes that on a global level the issue is at a tipping point. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has over 35 country members.
The problem is overwhelming – yet we can help.
Those of us fortunate enough to have skills necessary for running a business can give back. We can help people in various parts of the world find ways to create markets and generate revenues, and we can help lift people out of poverty.
Well, it is of course important to start local. Who can you help on a local level? Where can you volunteer and have an impact? What causes are you emotionally attached to? That’s where it starts.
What steps can be taken to reduce economic inequalities?
It starts with you. If you are an employer – be a fair employer.
If you are an employee, help the others that are not at your level.
The change happens when people stop competing and start cooperating.
When men don’t understand that they have advantages over women in the workplace – that is where the bias starts.
When employees feel helpless and managers don’t guide them towards a healthier resolution that is when the power dynamic creates more problems.
When people blame other people for their troubles, and not taking responsibility, that is where isolationism sets in. That is the time to speak up. Not the time to remain silent.
Lifting people up is not going to hurt you or your business.
One day you may be the person needing the lifting.
Here are five changes you can do to help make a difference…
Volunteer – start with 1 hour per week. It will eventually become the most favorite hour of your week. Volunteering has major benefits for people in leadership roles because it forces them to be a worker among workers. It is also a great chance for non-leaders to take on a leadership role.
Kindness – it may be cheesy but I like a lot of cheese on my pizza. People by nature are good not bad. They will of course resort to bad behavior when they’ve been pushed down or denied the basics of life one too many times. Remember the homeless person doesn’t want to be homeless.
Listen – everyone wants to be heard. Especially, those that have not been heard or have nobody to talk to. If you don’t understand this go volunteer one day in a nursing home where people have been abandoned by their families. Listen to their stories. You’ll learn a hell of a lot.
Hang out with like-minded people – imagine if you have four or five successful business owners drinking coffee and brainstorming about how they can help their community. That is a powerful cup of coffee each of them is drinking. Nothing big or small gets done alone. You’ll need to surround yourself with other people wanting to do the same. It will make all of you accountable. Even more important it will remind you that you’re not alone.
Speak up – that’s right. When you see someone treating people in a negative way speak up. Falling into the trap of “it isn’t my business” doesn’t work. We are all connected and that is the magic. We can absolutely solve this problem. Why? Well, because we created it.
How Do I Help at a Bigger Level?
A quick good search shows 14,800,000 hits for the search term “income inequality sites.”
A search for “income inequality solutions” only shows 1,170,000 results. Meaning there is a lot of work for us to do!
The Haas Institute as a set of suggestions that is worth reading as it relates to the United States.
Clasp also has some interesting solutions. Yet, again the focus is on the United States.
A search for “global solutions to income inequality” only brings in 302,000 results. This really shows the cause of the problem – it is a global issue.
Simply – it is a big problem no matter where you are in the world.
This isn’t as simple as taking money away from the rich.
We have to support, nurture, and lift up people at and below the poverty level. It is critical for us to give them the tools they need to solve their problems.
That’s why grass-roots is so important. What is a problem in your neighborhood may not be the same problem in another place.
Here’s a link to a Bloomberg story looking at the same issue in China.
You help at a bigger level by doing what is right in front of you. What is in your neighborhood. Find solutions there, write about them, post videos about it, share the solutions.
What is Inequality?
At the core inequality is when people with power over-leverage it for power, self-interest, or hubris.
One of the traps successful business people fall into as they scale into global multi-billion dollar businesses is to believe that all of the success is related to their leadership. This simply isn’t true. Large businesses on the business-to-consumer side tap into a trend mentality and then keep reinventing that trend, until the trend is over.
It’s hard to believe but cell phones are a trend.
Many of us didn’t grow up with cell phones. I had one of those giant cell phones in the 80’s and my bill was over $2500 a month. Cell phones and especially smartphones will be replaced by something. What that something is we don’t know.
In technology there is obviously an inequality with women employees in the tech field. There needs to be more female engineers, designers, and risk-takers.
Because they bring a different perspective to technology.
How did that inequality evolve? Over time. Meaning it will have to be resolved over time. Inequality isn’t an overnight fix.