SOCIAL THRESHOLDS #1-12: It’s time to mind the gap in pursuit of social justice

February 20, 2020



In support of the World Day of Social Justice today, and its theme of ‘closing the inequalities gap’, we examine the scale of social injustice and the role of business in helping to address it.  


As part of our annual research, we monitor the progress of the world’s largest companies in setting targets to help address 12 social thresholds, representing the basic resources needed to meet human rights, and to ensure that no one falls short on life’s essentials (from food and housing to healthcare and political voice). Kate Raworth maintains, when introducing her theory of social thresholds, that ‘there is always a question of how limited resources are to be distributed and used. If that question is left unspoken, it can lead to political stalemate, injustice, and suffering.’ 1


This blog summarises the state of the twelve social thresholds and how injustice and inaction in these social realms lead to real costs not just to society, but to business too. In particular, we examine where there are gaps, and where the opportunities lie in closing the gaps.











Article 13 research 2019




As is apparent from this data, we have a very long way to go before we can safely say that the gaps are narrowing, that companies are playing their part and that we are on our way to achieving social justice around the world - not just in ‘developed’ countries. It will require action from governments and corporations to use their influence and resources to make really meaningful change. Social justice can only be realised if we understand that there are real business opportunities to be had from the unacceptable inequities in wealth and privileges.


If the concept of target-setting for impact on social thresholds is of interest to your organisation (even if you find the facts distressing), then please contact us





For full references and links, please contact Article 13 at


1.        Kate Raworth, Defining a Safe and Just Space for Humanity, 2012

2.        FAO The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020

3.        UNICEF 2017

4.        Business Commission, Better Business, Better World, 2016

5.        University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 2017

6.        UNICEF 2019

7.        UNESCO

8.        Business Commission, Better Business, Better World, 2016

9.        OECD, 2015

10.      World Bank

11.      ILO 2019


13.      World Resources Institute 2019)

14.      WHO 2019

15.      [World Bank, 2017, Reducing Inequalities in Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene in the Era of the  Sustainable Development Goals : Synthesis Report of the WASH Poverty Diagnostic Initiative

16.      World Bank 2017

17.      Shell Corp, 2014 Accelerating Access to Energy Report

18.      ITU 2019

19.      Deloitte, 2014, Value of Connectivity report

20.      UN SDG’s

21.      London Assembly

22.      Sourced from Devex, Why proper housing for the poor makes economic sense, 2015

23.      World Economic Forum

24.      ONS 2019

25.      McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth,

26.      Oxfam 2020

27. 2020

28.      [xxi] Business Commission, Better Business, Better World, 2016

29.      Transparency International

30.      Ernst & Young, 'Corruption or Compliance – weighing the costs 10th Global Fraud Survey'

31.      Global Corruption Report: Education TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL

32.      Global slavery Index 2019

33.      World Bank

34.      [ILO, 2017






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