Income and work

Promote inclusive and sustainable employment and decent work for all.

Global overview

Decent work means opportunities for everyone to get work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration.

A continued lack of decent work opportunities and insufficient investments lead to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies: that all must share in progress. More than two billion people worldwide live in income poverty and around half a billion people are un- or under-employed. Many millions more work in dangerous and exploitative conditions, and are denied the right to organise and bargain collectively.

A global perspective on energy from the UN Sustainability Development goals

Providing the best opportunity to transition to a decent job calls for investing in education and training of the highest possible quality, providing skills that match labour market demands, giving access to social protection and basic services regardless of contract type, as well as levelling the playing field so that all aspiring people can attain productive employment regardless of their gender, income level or socio-economic background.

Implementing adequate health and safety measures and promoting supportive working environments are fundamental to protecting the
safety of workers, especially relevant for health workers and those providing essential services.

How is digital tech relevant to income and work?

Areas of tension

These are the issues, negative impacts and concerns collectively raised by the attendees from our pilot workshops.

For the digital tech workforce
  • Getting enough technical skills to find a first role in the tech industry can be difficult, especially as technology becomes increasingly complex and many for profit companies do not provide meaningful intern schemes or career progression for junior roles.
  • Undesirable, damaging or unethical work pays better.
  • A ‘growth at all costs’ and ‘go fast and break things’ mentality can create unsafe working conditions by placing unreasonable demands on tech workers, especially with regards to psychological safety.
  • There is a disparity between tech worker salaries in different geographical regions.
  • Large tech firms have typically fought against unions and those employees that try to organise for better conditions or to fall out unethical practices.
For the global population
  • The digital tech industry can excaberate income inequality between priviledged and marginalised communities.
  • Rare raw materials to build digital tech devices and infrastructure eg lithium and cobalt are mined by trapped, marginalised communities in unsafe working conditions.
  • The growing burden of e-waste reuse/recycling/disposal often falls to marginalised communities in poorer countries who create an income for themselves extracting precious resources in unsafe and unregulated conditions. This type of work has been punished by the west due to environmental concerns, whilst the root causes of the problem and upsides to such an industry are overlooked.

How can we nudge these tensions for the better?

Grounds for hope

These are visions and ideas for change collectively raised by the attendees from our pilot workshops.

For the digital tech workforce
  • Universal Basic Income.
  • CEO only earns max 3x as much as lowest paid worker.

For the global population

  • Less work hours.
  • Universal access to the social foundation.
  • All incentivization packages must have >50% ESG criteria.
  • Redistributing wealth through tech rather than extracting it.

Keen to learn more?

If you’d like to explore these issues yourself, either as an individual or with your work colleagues, why not run your own workshop?

Our workshop methodology is open source and available for anyone to use for free. Alternatively you can hire trusted professionals to facilitate the process on your behalf.