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ANALYSIS: Lawyers Say Firms Don’t Walk the ESG Talk on Covid-19

Dec. 7, 2020, 8:01 PM

A recent Bloomberg Law survey suggests a disconnect between legal professionals and their organizations in how they view the impact of ESG programs on resiliency in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. There has also been a shift in the importance of nearly all “social” considerations, as legal professionals are viewing these matters as more important than they did in the pre-pandemic environment.

ESG and Resiliency

More than 70% of respondents to the Bloomberg Law ESG Survey 2020 agreed with the statement that having an environmental, social, and governance program in place allows organizations to respond more efficiently during a crisis. This result is not surprising, as companies with strong ESG programs in place are likely to have been more focused on human capital and supply chain concerns, and would be better prepared to deal with sudden disruptions such as a remote workforce, employee health concerns, and supply chain interruptions.

Surprisingly, though, fewer than half of the respondents reported that their ESG program allowed them to respond more efficiently to a variety of challenges during the pandemic. These companies may want to take a close look at their ESG programs, including management’s buy-in and the tone at the top, and at the degree of integration of the program into their business operations.

Renewed Focus on Social Factors

The survey data show that companies have had to refocus on social concerns to deal with the pandemic.

For example, prior to the pandemic, 54% of the survey respondents saw flex time as an important consideration. Now, with massive workforce displacement, more than 90% report it as important. This shift in importance highlights how working from home has changed the work environment and a change in priorities for workers and organizations, as well as the work environment as a whole.

These and other findings from the ESG survey will be discussed at Bloomberg Law’s Dec. 9 webinar, “ESG Resiliency, Preparedness, & the Pandemic.” The webinar will delve deeper into the issue of whether companies with established ESG strategies and infrastructures may be better situated to bounce back from the challenges of 2020. Register or learn more here.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on our In Focus: ESG resource.

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