This article was first published in the May 2021 edition of The Law Society of NSW Journal, available here.
The emergence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent impacts have created a unique set of challenges for business.
Among them is identifying, assessing and addressing the particular risks and vulnerabilities that may have emerged as a result of extraordinarily disrupted supply chains, disconnection from colleagues, and shifts in the ‘new normal’. These disruptions have amplified existing vulnerabilities in social inequalities and human rights issues, including racial and gender discrimination, and exposed risks to climate change.
Whether it’s a result of the heightened sensitivities arising from the pandemic, or the ongoing steady increase in community and market expectation, organisations are facing more scrutiny on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk reporting than ever before. A new generation of activists is using the courts and non-judicial mechanisms such as the OECD Contact Points to raise complaints and force changes in behaviour. Institutional investors are requiring transparency and accountability. Regulators, shareholders and communities are mobilising to demand social and environmental responsibility.
We reflect on four key reporting areas particularly affected by COVID-19 that require the focus and attention of organisations in order to meet ESG expectations and avoid reputational and financial consequences.
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