How Are Sustainability Goals Faring as a Result of COVID-19?

Sean Mason
Sean Mason
July 17, 2020
Impact of COVID-19 on Corporate Sustainability

Given the increased EHS & Sustainability needs in terms of time, attention and resources that are being devoted to managing the global pandemic, the question on the table is: What impact this is having on a company’s ability to meet their EHS & Sustainability objectives?

NAEM asked that question to our members earlier this year in March. At that time, most of the companies reported they were retaining the same goals set before COVID-19 struck. NAEM’s research findings also showcased that:

  1. The corporate EHS & Sustainability function was a central player in responding to the pandemic; and
  2. The EHS&S function gained additional workload responsibilities to meet the needs of ongoing pandemic-related Health & Safety initiatives, which continue today in the “new normal” of the workplace.

Now, six months later, a more complex picture is emerging on how companies are coping. The pressures of managing in a COVID-19-compatible workplace, combined with the pressures of a weakened economy, are impacting progress on corporate sustainability goals.

We’ve heard many different experiences from our members. For some companies, these business conditions have ushered in an opportunity to look at sustainability problems in a new way, or with a focus on innovation and cost efficiencies. Other companies are assessing their sustainability goals to focus on achieving few key priority goals. And we’ve heard about companies who are unable to move forward with sustainability initiatives, especially those that require capital and resource expenditures.

If you’d like to go beyond anecdotal information and gauge how you and your company are faring, join us at the Sustainability Impact Conference for a research presentation on this topic, or stay tuned for the report publishing in September 2020.

In the meantime, what we do know is that EHS & Sustainability leaders are hard at work. And, having transitioned from crisis to coping to effectively managing long-term changes, the EHS&S function will continue to perform a pivotal role.

About the Author

Sean Mason
Sean Mason
NAEM
As Research Manager, Sean is responsible for designing and executing NAEM's research agenda. If you have any questions about NAEM's research, please contact him at sean@naem.org.

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