There have been some talks about sustainability initiatives will take a backseat during and after COVID-19 pandemic because of the financial difficulty faced by companies currently. It is also true that companies focus on surviving the current pandemic and will channel resources to areas of growth after COVID-19 pandemic, and thus sustainability initiatives might be side-lined.
However, the cutback on sustainability initiatives might only be applicable to companies that are treating sustainability as a marketing campaign or brand image exercise. With lower revenue, companies are looking for ways to reduce costs and sustainability initiatives that are based on marketing funding will inevitable be put on hold. On the other hand, for companies that embed sustainability in their operations, the impact of COVID-19 on sustainability is minimal and is expected to thrive after COVID-19.
Take for example, Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, embeds all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its core business and its five sustainability mega-trends: Climate, Circular economy, Ethics, Health & Equity, and Development. The company has been investing in R&D to develop solutions and technologies that support customers and its own transition to sustainable growth, to a world with decarbonized and decentralized energy. Sustainability is an integral part of the company, starting from R&D. The other sustainable development goals like health and well-being, and gender equality etc are embedded into human resource policy. More details can be found in the attached pdf.
In summary, we might see two groups of companies emerge post COVID-19 pandemic; companies that embed sustainability into their business operations will accelerate toward sustainability development while the other group of companies will pause and take time to pick up again or even decide to change strategy and start embedding sustainability into business operation.