Sustainable Office

CSR & COVID-19

Integrating environmental, social and governance into business has long been the essence of Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR) but how have organisations reacted to the impact of Covid-19?

It’s well reported that good CSR is a positive element of any business, with customers wanting to buy more ethically and employees wanting more purpose in their working lives. Being socially accountable, albeit self-regulated, is something to strive for (and certainly the types of business we like to work with at Allen & York).

But, in the midst of the global pandemic, have CSR initiatives gone by the wayside until there’s more stability in the global markets?

It does seem the case for energy efficiency and sustainability programmes, as Edie’s survey of 101 UK-based energy and sustainability professionals bears out. In March 2020, “70 per cent said their organisation had either confirmed plans to pause investment into sustainability solutions or were considering doing so”. Five months later and the situation may be even worse.

Environmental, social, governance (ESG) reporting on issues like employee health, safety & wellbeing or work practiceswill most likely prove the point further. 

Momentum in the office

The markets continue to be uncertain, but with time ticking on to the 2050 net-zero carbon target, is there time to lose? Surely CSR is at the heart of managing the COVID strategy? With people’s health and wellbeing being the number one priority.

Peter Carr, Head of Facilities Management at Commercial Estates Group (CEG) states: “We feel that social responsibility is exactly the point of COVID management – with structured careful management of the reduction in occupancy of properties initially”.

World Health Organisation (WHO) and industry advice on engineering health guidance also plays a part in terms of airflows within the buildings, ensuring the wellbeing of staff in office buildings where working remotely isn’t an option.

Green Recovery

What about environmental sustainability? Air quality has improved and carbon emissions reduced during lockdown, likely more due to the crisis than planned activity. Indeed the UN Environment Chief warned against viewing the effect of COVID-19 on climate change as a “silver lining”.This isn’t the time to be complacent.

Inger Andersen, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) suggests a future where “…finance and actions fuel green jobs, green growth and a different way of life, because the health of people and the health of the planet are one and the same, and both can thrive in equal measure”.

The future

The truth is no-one has a crystal ball to predict how things will pan out. Progress has inevitably stalled but ambition is still strong and we hope that the recovery is green and that green jobs are at the forefront of jobs growth. 

Allen & York are currently helping many forward thinking organisations right now. If you or your organisation would also like our help to get ahead and be at the forefront of positive, purposeful recruitment, please call Katie Pereira on 01202 888986 or email kpereira@allen-york.comtoday.

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