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    Covid-19 will be the ultimate test for Corporate Responsibility Paths

    Nikos Avlonas

    Center for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE)


    March 19, 2020


    The international emergency arising in the last few weeks following the extensive spread of the  Covid-19, also known as coronavirus, has reached a critical point, encompassing both global health as well as the economic impact the will ensue. It is widely expected that the global economic system will suffer greatly, with the United Nations reporting losses of up to $2 trillion while Bloomberg, being even more pessimistic, forecasts losses of up to $2.7 trillion, a figure which compares to the entire GDP of the United Kingdom !


    With rapid developments occurring at a daily pace and following the announcement that we are experiencing a global pandemic, it already is clear that certain industry sectors will be harder hit than others, the biggest losers appearing to be tourism, air travel but also retail as well as food and beverage service industries. All these sectors are co-dependent and the growing uncertainty is firing off chain reactions that are greatly impacting the business community as a whole as well as the entire Banking system. According to IATA, the loss for the commercial airline industry could range between $63 billion to $113 billion for this year alone, depending on the length of impact brought on by the virus.


    Businesses are being called upon to combat the economic crisis but in parallel to prove their sustainability by acting with significant responsibility towards their employees, their customers, their business partners as well as for the safety of their products and services. It can be said that the pandemic is a true test of Sustainability and Responsibility of all existing businesses while most are already in crisis mode.


    In the attempt to maintain and support supply chains, particularly around the distribution of emergency products and services, such as food and pharmaceuticals, the adoption of strict protective measures, both for employees as well as the products delivered to end customers, is a basic requirement of Corporate Responsibility. In addition, special emphasis can be made on the population groups at higher risk and are in immediate need for protection through collaborations and synergies that can be created through sector initiatives or independently.  Examples could be supermarkets offering free home delivery to high risk customers while medical centers can take advantage of the technology available and offer virtual diagnostic and tele-medical services.


    In parallel, many organizations are already offering solutions creating customized working conditions, such as tele-working,  in line with the general guidance to “stay at home” but also providing psychological support and other initiatives for the well being of their employees. Technology is indeed an important ally given that the many alternatives it can offer are proving to be highly beneficial.


    It is widely accepted by all that in this difficult and unprecedented time it’s a basic requirement that we all display personal responsibility. Similarly for businesses, the time has come to put in practice their corporate social responsibility and solidarity for the communities they serve.