Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
29 June 2021

Transformation of work, inequalities and solidarities

AHCD launches a video interview series with leading experts.

AHCD is launching a video interview series on the ‘transformation of work, inequalities and solidarities’, one of its three research pillars. A first set of interviews were produced during the Delphi Economic Forum. Along with Chatham House, the World Bank Group, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and other key organisations, the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy was a Programming Partner of the 6th Delphi Economic Forum which took place in Athens on 10-15 May 2021.

The interviews focus on how the emergence of new forms of hybrid work, including the gig and platform economy, is changing the contours of the employment relationship. They highlight the importance of forging collaborations between workers and employers for achieving social equity, economic efficiency and democratic participation in the 21st-century workplace.


1. The future of capitalism(s): Shalini Randeria in conversation with Branko Milanovic, Delphi Economic Forum VI

Branko Milanovic, one of the world’s leading scholar on income inequality, discusses the future of capitalism(s), economic inequalities and the compatibility of capitalism and democracy. He points out that dissatisfaction with capitalism exists mostly in the West. Indeed, while the West is losing the privileged position it had for centuries, other regions have tended to benefit from globalization and capitalism. How have huge inequalities of wealth in the West come about? Professor Milanovic reviews factors such as globalization and the outsourcing of jobs; technological change; and policies relating to deregulation and the weakening of organized labour. All three have led to increasing economic polarisation between the rich and the poor.

The discussion was endorsed by the Embassy of Switzerland in Greece, with Ambassador Olaf Kjelsen delivering opening remarks.


Branko Milanovic is Visiting Presidential Professor and LIS Senior Scholar at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has also worked as Lead Economist in the World Bank’s research department and is the author of The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality and Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization (Harvard University Press, 2016).

The future of capitalism(s)

2. How the Pandemic is Challenging the Future of Work: Maria Mexi in conversation with Sharan Burrow, Delphi Economic Forum VI

The covid-19 pandemic is causing immense disruptions to the world of work, which had already been under great strain due to profound changes in technology, globalization, demographics, climate, as well as other global trends. While the full impacts of the pandemic crisis on labour markets will be revealed in the years to come, the evidence so far points to a wide range of formidable policy challenges. According to ILO’s latest estimates, the crisis has resulted in an unprecedented global loss of 8.8 per cent of working hours, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs, in 2020. Young people, women and care workers, as well as precarious, low-paid workers, including those in the platform economy, have been taking a disproportionate share of the impact. In that context, this fireside chat conducted as part of the Delphi Economic Forum VI focuses on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of work and addresses policy and regulatory measures to mitigate such impacts and facilitate a new social contract for a robust and inclusive recovery for all. The discussion also considers the implications of a set of parallel labour market developments for workers and trade unions, such as how emerging hybrid working patterns and other technological-driven '’disruptions’ will be temporary or structural, as well as how unions can play a leading role in tackling the climate crisis and economic restructuring, and in helping young people build voice and exercise collective agency to earn and sustain decent livelihoods in the platform economy.


Sharan Burrow is the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Prior to this, she held the position of ITUC President since its Founding Congress in Vienna and the position of ICFTU President since its 18th World Congress in Miyazaki. She is the first woman to have held any of these positions. In May 2000, Sharan Burrow became the second woman to be elected President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. In October 2000, Sharan also became the first woman to be elected President of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions Asia Pacific Region Organisation. She has also served as a member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation and is a member or ambassador of a number of international commissions on climate action, industrial transition and economic reform.

How the Pandemic is Challenging the Future of Work – Maria Mexi with Sharan Burrow

3. Reimagining the Future of Work in a Post-Pandemic Environment: Maria Mexi in conversation with Deborah Lovich, Delphi Economic Forum VI

The pandemic crisis has presented businesses with the need to prepare for, and optimize, the hybrid working models of tomorrow, in which fully in-person and remote work will be two ends of a fluid spectrum of options. Post-pandemic hybrid working poses new challenges, especially to diversity and inclusion. This new way of working could create a two-tier workforce, benefiting those who work on site and disadvantaging remote workers. Without addressing organisational culture and leadership models to get the best out of disparate teams, there is a risk that pre-Covid-19 workplace inequalities will be exacerbated, and new inequalities may emerge. This fireside chat conducted in the framework of the Delphi Economic Forum VI is, therefore, looking at the issue of hybrid work: how the pandemic has normalized remote work, and what that might mean. What are the challenges of working remotely? Will work-from-home be the great leveller in terms of work-life balance and diversity?  How has the pandemic re-defined the role of the employer? Is anyone being left behind? How can we ensure that organizations are able to better recruit talent, achieve innovation, foster workplace diversity and collaboration, deliver productive and inclusive work, and create value for employers and employees alike?


Deborah Lovich is a Managing Director and Senior Partner in the Boston office of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and co-leads the global Leadership and Talent Enablement Center. She has spent 20 years at BCG in a variety of roles, including head of consulting and administrative staff for the Boston office and member of the BCG Executive Committee.

Reimagining the Future of Work in a Post-Pandemic Environment – Maria Mexi & Deborah Lovich

4. Uber's Future in Mobility and the Platform Economy: Maria Mexi in conversation with Giovanna D'Esposito, Delphi Economic Forum VI

Private ‘on-demand’ ride-hailing platforms have changed the urban mobility landscape for good. Their arrival is triggering major market disruption in many countries around the world. New mobility patterns and platform-based mobility solutions are characterised by greater flexibility, taking advantage of the ‘sharing concept’ and simultaneously providing solutions that have lower greenhouse gas emissions. These dynamics and an evolving environment raise several new challenges at different levels, fostering the development of 'mobility-as-a-service' and accelerating the shift away from personal-vehicle ownership. At the same time, the companies at its heart are facing severe criticism over inadequate employment protections, freeriding on conventional businesses and inadequate consumer protection, and building profit on data generated by workers for free. In that context, authorities are urged to identify the appropriate regulatory frameworks to enable this new wave of on-demand mobility solutions so they can cater for the needs of consumers while striving for better working conditions for platform workers. This fireside discussion conducted as part of the Delphi Economic Forum VI discusses the role of Uber – the most the most widely-recognized and widely-studied platform - in the mobility sector. What’s the way in which the pandemic has forged Uber in the crisis, and what new mobility-related challenges will be coming out of the pandemic? What is the Uber future strategy along the regulatory front? How does the platform engage with regulation and build partnerships with cities and governments? And what solutions can be put in practice in terms of protecting workers in the platform economy while accommodating innovative mobility solutions in the future?


Giovanna D'Esposito is the General Manager of South West Europe for Uber. During her 25+ years of professional experience, she held several corporate and consulting roles in strategy, business development and general management. She has a strong interest in promoting women’s dignity and leadership, and in fostering digital expertise. More recently she focused on advisory and financial support to digital start-ups. She is a member of YPO, the largest worldwide organization of CEOs, where she serves as Chair for the Rome Chapter since 2018.

''Uber's Future in Mobility and the Platform Economy'' - Maria Mexi with Giovanna D'Esposito

READ MORE and watch the next interview with Thorben Albrecht, Policy Director of IG Metall, on Building New Solidarities in a Changing World of Work.


FOLLOW ALSO our commentary series on the need to redesign the platform economy on a more democratic and sustainable basis.