Articles & Blogs on Inequality & Justice

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Corporate Activism Is More than a Marketing Gimmick

“While some see companies’ support for Black Lives Matter as a calculated marketing ploy, I argue that companies’ support for Black Lives Matter is an example of corporate activism – in other words, a sincere engagement with the policymaking process. Setting aside the question of whether corporate activism is good or bad for democracy, and whether it is sometimes clumsy or even offensive, it is a genuine attempt to influence policy outcomes.”

The Facebook Boycott and Corporate Co-Optation

“It’s interesting that large corporations see value in using their power as purchasers to force changes, something their own customers might want to note for the future. And seeing Mark Zuckerberg in the crosshairs of a capital strike has a delightful quality to it. But let’s be clear: This is a cosmetic PR move from a corporate sector looking for simple, performative solutions to deep-seated persecution. Multinationals are trying to buy off protesters with empty symbols of solidarity and diversity training seminars. People are in the streets over far more than that.”

Ideas Alone Won’t Tame Capitalism

“Marx and Engels, the founders of one of the most enduring ideologies, would have hardly disagreed with Piketty’s faith in the importance of ideas. But they also offered a theory of social change—namely, class struggle. Piketty, for his part, argues that ideas drive societies in new directions, and that lacking new ideas is what keeps societies from taking advantage of critical junctures in history. ‘Change comes when the short-term logic of events intersects with the long-term evolution of ideas,’ he writes. Piketty blames a lack of ideas at decisive moments of political unrest and upheaval—or ‘switch points’—for the course of history taking a wrong turn, instead of arriving at the possibility for real change. Yet, the rich historical evidence he himself presents in this book suggests that institutions are often more enduring than ideas.”

We’re Entering the Age of Corporate Social Justice

“Research has shown that companies with effective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are more profitable than those that aren’t. Over the last 50 years, corporations have relied on these programs, which include social issue marketing, philanthropic efforts, employee volunteer initiatives, and diversity and inclusion work, to build their brands and satisfy customers. Now, consumers and employees are raising the bar. […] Consumers and employees are now looking for more than CSR — they’re looking for what I call Corporate Social Justice.”

Economists’ Silence on Racism Is 100 Years in the Making

“Three years ago, Alice Wu’s thesis about overtly sexist language found on a forum used by job market candidates, followed by sexual assault allegations against star economist Roland Fryer less than two years later, represented a tipping point in the gender dynamics within the field of economics. Many Wu’s paper as the catalyst to institutional change in the economics profession with respect to gender. As a result, the American Economic Association decided to establish a Committee on Equity, Diversity and Professional Conduct, which administered and published a profession-wide climate survey. What the survey revealed was another deep-rooted problem, one that black economists have known for nearly a century: Economics has a race problem.”

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