Corporate Sustainability and COVID-19: Trying to Stay On Track
What has jettisoned to the front of sustainability is the focus on employee health and wellness. Additionally, according to NAEM research conducted at the 3-month mark from the onset of COVID-19 shutdowns, 77% of companies are on still track or ahead of schedule with their greenhouse gas reduction goals. ESG reporting and transparency also remains a priority.
On the flip side, this drops to 64% for zero-waste goals and 62% for sustainable sourcing:
With as many as 38% of companies falling behind on any given sustainability initiative, let’s outline why that’s happening:
- COVID-19 response: First and foremost, environmental and sustainability staff are being drawn into health & safety efforts to manage their company’s COVID-19 response. “We've seen ourselves kind of get pulled into the health & safety side of compliance,” shares one sustainability leader.
- ESG initiatives: Many sustainability functions are taking on added responsibilities as their companies deepen commitments to racial equity, diversity and inclusion. While community and consumer engagement is not a new activity, many companies have increased their focus on this, and so have turned to their sustainability staff to manage these efforts.
- Limited resources: Additional workload and reduced workforce account for the need to prioritize sustainability initiatives.
Zeroing in on Zero WasteNAEM’s research shows a variety of reasons why sustainability progress in 2020 is mixed. Zero-waste initiatives provide a good example of the drivers that are coming together. Sustainability leaders report the following when it comes to resources for their zero-waste programs in 2020:
- 63% report reduced manpower
- 54% report reduced focus
- 31% report reduced funding
- 23% report that zero waste is not currently considered business-critical
NAEM’s Zero-Waste peer workgroup, for example, will share and discuss the following this month:
- Effective strategies for tracking and reducing solid and liquid waste
- How to get buy-in from internal and external stakeholders for zero-waste initiatives
- Strategies to take zero-waste programs from vision to actionable results
Teamwork within companies is essential, as is benchmarking outside of your company with fellow EHS & Sustainability leaders. We hope you take advantage of NAEM resources and others to get you to the next level.
Join us for a free webinar with corporate sustainability leaders on Thursday, Sept. 24. Register today: https://www.naem.org/what-we-offer/webinars/read/covid-19-impact-corporate-sustainability