‘Radical change’: leaders call for action to tackle inequalities | News on the coronavirus pandemic

A new study shows that the ranks of the global middle class fell for the first time since the 1990s, widening inequalities.

Covid-19 has shown the world undeniable evidence of the inequalities faced by underrepresented people. If government and business leaders don’t make sweeping changes, conditions won’t just stay bad, they’ll get worse, according to key policy makers who gathered this week at Bloomberg’s fourth annual summit on the equality.

The United States cannot be considered fully recovered until the employment of blacks and Hispanics has recovered as much as that of whites, even if that means federal policies are driving inflation in the short term, said Cecilia Rouse, chairman of President Joe Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, in an interview. Former American Express Co. CEO Ken Chenault and Facebook Inc. COO Sheryl Sandberg also offered advice on needed changes.

The pandemic, which has killed 2.7 million people worldwide, including more than half a million in the United States, has disrupted economies, closed borders and delayed jobs and education for the poorest in worldwide. As rich countries rush to distribute vaccines and reopen their economies, the same disadvantaged groups hardest hit by Covid are being left behind by the cure, Jordan’s Queen Rania said.

“I think the time for radical change has arrived,” Queen Rania said during a discussion on the wealth gap this week, noting that extreme poverty is on the rise for the first time in two decades . “Obviously the system is not working.”

In a study released Thursday, researchers at the non-partisan Pew Research Center found that the ranks of the global middle class – those who earn $ 10 to $ 50 a day – have fallen from 90 million people to nearly 2.5 billion. last year because of the Covid-19. pandemic. This has helped swell the ranks of the poor, or those who live on less than $ 2 a day, by 131 million, Pew estimated.

Government policy, from minimum wage to family care, needs to be geared more towards benefiting under-represented groups to ensure that everyone also recovers from the pandemic, Rouse said.

Vaccine nationalism complicates the equitable distribution of Covid-19 treatments and could hamper efforts to deliver 2 billion doses to the poorest and middle-income countries by the end of the year, said Adar Poonawalla, director of the the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India. . Distrust of the health care system on the part of people of color remains a factor, said Keith Churchwell, president of Yale New Haven Hospital, speaking in one of more than 20 panels and interviews.

Colombia lags behind its South American neighbors with just 0.3% of the population vaccinated, even as the country has the second highest number of infections on the continent [File: Ivan Valencia/Bloomberg]

Facebook Inc., Procter & Gamble Co, Hewlett Packard Enterprises Co., and Visa Inc. were among the companies that reiterated their commitment to making changes, such as adding paid time off, promoting under-represented workers and l hiring new diversity executives. American companies should work together to set goals for improving diversity in their ranks, especially at the highest levels, said Chenault, who is also a co-founder of OneTen, a coalition of companies working to create 1 million middle-class jobs for black Americans. within 10 years.

“A lot of companies have tried this on their own, a few have been successful,” Chenault, now chairman of General Catalyst, told David Westin on the closing day of the summit. “But the truth is, big companies haven’t done well when it comes to diversity.”

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