Dear SustainAbility Community –

Our March 27 newsletter acknowledged the disruption and uncertainty COVID-19 has unleashed while pointing to some uplifting societal and business responses.

Two weeks on, there is more data — about infection rates, deaths, economic fallout, government responses and more — but meaning remains elusive. Shared questions include: Is social distancing working and how long with it last? How high will unemployment rise? Individually we wonder: Is my family safe? How can I help my community?

In response, many political leaders are making remarkably personal appeals, like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, filmed outside his home explaining ‘flattening the curve’ and why everyone must help. Daily briefings of some US Governors, like New York’s Andrew Cuomo, are now must-watch viewing for constituents. And citizens everywhere are contributing, like this volunteer elder-support army in the UK, and by following guidance on helping medical personnel.

Business leadership is advancing too. As CEO Tim Cook shares, Apple has sourced some 20 million face masks for donation and pivoted employee skills to design and produce face shields for healthcare workers. JPMorganChase CEO Jamie Dimon’s April 6th Letter to Shareholders addresses financial performance, but gives most ink to a seven-part section detailing how JPMC will support customers, employees, communities, shareholders and government during the crisis. And, as CEO of the world’s biggest soap-maker, Alan Jope writes about Unilever’s responsibility to help, which includes “free soap, sanitiser, bleach and food to the value of €100 million.”

At a meeting of Chief Sustainability Officers we just hosted, change management expert Michael Nord of ERM Group’s The Fifth Business talked about empathetic, authentic, transparent and consistent leadership. Cook, Dimon and Jope demonstrate this, and Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson’s employee message presents an amazing balance of rawness and determination well worth watching.

This newsletter features articles on COVID-19 relating to the tech sector and Asia Pacific’s recovery, insights from ERM Group company Critical Resource’s stakeholder advisory panel and an invitation to our April 16 webinar “COVID-19. Sustainability. What’s Next?” which will explore the pandemic’s impacts on sustainable development and business.

As ever, we welcome your feedback.

Stay safe,
Mark Lee, Executive Director, SustainAbility and Partner, ERM