Why is the CEO of IKEA Switzerland head of a UN panel on gender?

   0   0 Blog, Corporate Tax, Gender, Human Rights, Taxing corporations
Simona Scarpaleggia, CEO of IKEA Switzerland

Simona Scarpaleggia, CEO of IKEA Switzerland

On March the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment held their inaugural meetingThe panel:

intends to put women’s economic empowerment at the top of the international agenda, including by defining actions to speed up progress under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” 

Gender responses and gender impact are clearly seen as key ways to anchor the success of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. And we’re pleased that this is happening. But there is a jarring note.

“The Co-Chairs of the Panel are Luis Guillermo Solis, President of Costa Rica, and Simona Scarpaleggia, CEO of IKEA Switzerland.” 

We have no doubt that Ms. Scarpaleggia is personally committed to gender equality. It’s her role as the CEO of IKEA (Switzerland) that we find jarring. This comes from a couple of different angles. 

First, we co-filed a submission earlier this month to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW,) the UN body mandated to oversee compliance with women’s human rights – focusing specifically on the extra-territorial impacts of Switzerland’s opaque financial legislation has on women’s rights and gender equality, particularly in developing countries. When people dodge taxes and other obligations via the Swiss banking industry and its financial secrecy provisions, it disproportionately hurts women in the countries concerned (see our tax justice and gender page.) 

IKEASecond, last month we highlighted a report by the Greens in the UK parliament highlighting IKEA’s tax trickery, reported to be to tune of “€1 billion in taxes over the last 6 years using onshore European tax havens”. 

The report contains elements such as this:

“Kamprad has openly acknowledged that he has been preoccupied with the problem of avoiding income and inheritance taxes in Sweden since at least the 1960s. Ultimately, these concerns led him to move to Switzerland and to relocate and restructure IKEA.
. . .
As revealed in “LuxLeaks” documents released last year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Inter IKEA Group re-routed its Belgian-based internal financing operation to Luxembourg and Switzerland in 2010. This shift was prompted by legal action taken by the European Commission which ultimately forced Belgium to eliminate the coordination centre regime, effective 2011.”

Time and again, as we and others have demonstrated, it’s women who bear the brunt of tax avoidance by wealthy individuals and large corporations. That is for two generic reasons: first, because the ensuing spending cuts tend to hit women disproportionately; and second, because men overwhelmingly tend to outnumber women as owners of capital and thus as beneficiaries of corporate tax avoidance and high-end tax cuts, as we recently showed.)

Have IKEA suddenly turned a corner — or are we to shield our eyes from the hypocrisy and hope desperately for a silver lining somewhere in the future?

 

 


Related Posts

UN must defend target to curtail multinational companies’ tax abuse

Photo by Luca Santori, Creative Commons LicenseThe Tax Justice Network, The Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice call on the UN Secretary General to make sure the commitment to action on tax abuses by multinational companies remains part of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.

READ MORE →

The BVI: Responsible for worldwide tax losses of $37.5 billion a year

BVI report blogAn extraordinary report by consultants Capital Economics, for BVI Finance, claims that the British Virgin Islands are responsible for $1.5 trillion of assets invested around the world, and that these result in 2.2 million jobs and $15 billion in tax revenue. A better approximation would be that the BVI imposes global tax losses of $37.5 […]

READ MORE →

Event: Making Tax Work for Women in the UK and Globally

Invitation_ Tax and Gender eventOn Wednesday 28th June 2017 at 16.30 our very own Liz Nelson will be speaking at an event in London that aims to bring together gender and tax justice advocates to highlight the need for coherent and gender-responsive fiscal policies to safeguard the rights of women and girls both in the UK and globally. The […]

READ MORE →

Historic event on women, human rights and tax justice in Bogota

BogotaLast week civil society organisations, researchers, labour union activists and policy makers met in Bogota, Colombia to explore how tax justice issues can ensure governments, multinational corporations and others meet their obligations to women in order to secure their full range of human rights. The Women’s Rights and Tax Justice conference opened with a conversation […]

READ MORE →

The Offshore Wrapper: the Panama Papers, one year on

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceWelcome to the Offshore Wrapper – your weekly update from TJN.  Happy Paniversary! This week it’s been one year since the Panama Papers were leaked, and a number of organisations around the world have been marking the occasion though the global week of action for tax justice. In London, activists from the TJN and the […]

READ MORE →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top