By Nikos Avlonas, President and Founder of CSE
As planning around COVID-19 becomes the new normal, companies are backing off from the extreme measures many imposed early on. Early board room discussions included: no capital expenditures; trolling for positions to cut; removing sustainability as a priority and cutting charitable donations.
Then, the civil unrest in the United States and around the world led to opposite extreme statements. Whether standing with Black Lives Matter or noticing flagging in-house Diversity and Inclusion programs, companies were quick to voice concern and support for minority and diverse communities.
In reality, sustainability and charitable giving can lead companies forward – not reactive but proactive.
The unrest caused by economic downturn demonstrates an undeniable need to invest in underserved communities. Typical charity is out – investing is in. Company after company have pledged to small business loans and grants; have devised direct investment programs for minority-owned companies; have targeted key stakeholder communities. An important emphasis is on developing supply chains.
Another surprising outcome – to everyone but trained sustainability professionals – is the new awareness of alternatives: alternative energy to power micro-grids; efficiencies from reams of paper to multi-million dollar machinery; the cleaner air from fewer cars on the road. Companies are quantifying the after effects of work-from-home and farmers tossing out milk to ask, “What do we really need to thrive as a company?”
In many cases the answer is the dedicated workforce they’d considered cutting. Manufacturing has seen an increase in demand and in some cases can’t find enough workers. How will they entice workers? Even housing has increased – with efficient construction and smaller footprints.
If your company is assessing how to implement and leverage sustainability, rather than seeing it as an expendable expense, you’re ahead of the game!
If your company has a panicked, emergency mode mentality, maybe it’s time to transition your career. Either way, you need to understand the interrelated dynamics of sustainability, community engagement and the role of corporate leaders. Make sure you’re prepared. In response to COVID-19, check out CSE’s the Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Program, Advanced Edition 2020, DIGITAL VERSION.