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Will Sustainability Efforts Get a Boost from the COVID-19 Crisis? Opinions Are Sharply Divided

Respondents from two different surveys—one comprising general counsel, corporate secretaries, and investor relations executives at more than 230 US public companies, the other comprising more than 40 sustainability executives in the US—have very different opinions on the impact that COVID-19 will have on corporate sustainability programs (defined as initiatives designed to promote the long-term welfare of the company, multiple stakeholders, society at large, and the environment). Three out of 10 sustainability executives expect the current health crisis to increase emphasis on their environmental and social efforts—but only 1 in 10 of their fellow governance executives agree.

There may be a number of drivers here: executives may have divergent views of the meaning of the term “sustainability”; they may also have different views of their own company’s sustainability programs, and they may have different takes on the breadth and depth of COVID-19’s impact.

This divergence of opinions reveals companies need to reach an internal consensus on the crisis’s impact on their sustainability programs, and be prepared to communicate it in a coherent, cohesive, and consistent manner.

For more insights from the surveys, see: Refocusing Sustainability during COVID-19 and Corporate Governance Challenges in the COVID-19 Crisis: Findings from a Survey of US Public Companies.

For more on the intersection of sustainability and COVID-19, see: Five Ways a Sustainability Strategy Provides Clarity in a Time of Crisis.

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Bart van Ark

Outgoing Chief Economist; Program Director, CFO: Fortune 250 Council

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Lynn Franco

Director, Economic Indicators and Surveys

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Ataman Ozyildirim, PhD

Director, Economic Research, and Global Research Chair

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Matteo Tonello

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Gad Levanon, PhD

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David Hoffman

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Rebecca L. Ray, PhD

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Anke Schrader

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Amy Lui Abel, PhD

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Thomas Singer

Principal Researcher

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Dr. Uwe G. Schulte

Leader, Global Sustainability Centre and Program Director

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Paul Washington

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Ilaria Maselli

Senior Economist

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Amanda Popiela

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Elizabeth Crofoot

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John Forsyth

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Cindy Cisneros

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Steve Odland

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Jeff Hoffman

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Joseph J. Minarik

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Erik Lundh

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Robin Erickson, PhD

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JP Kuehlwein

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Denise Dahlhoff, PhD

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Laura Sabattini, PhD

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Robert Schwarz

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Chiqui Cartagena

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Dr. Mahdy Al Jazzaf

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