Addressing Supply Chain Risks Through the ESG Lens in a Post COVID Era

02 July, 2020

The COVID -19 pandemic has brought to the fore, a host of unprecedented ambiguities for societies and businesses at large. The last few months of social isolation and quarantine have impacted not just people’s well-being and health, but also industries and overall world economy. The global economy has come crashing down tremendously, giving us a bitter reminder of the 2009 recession, and that’s not all. The worldwide lockdown affected the global supply chain operations in particular and executives are confronted by serious business risks never seen before.

The impact of the pandemic has only served to add on to pre-existing economic inefficiencies, and further deferred specialized production and inventories. How do we then mitigate these risks effectively? With this thought in mind, we at Treeni Sustainability Solutions conducted a webinar recently on the topic ‘Addressing Supply Chain Risks through the ESG lens in a Post COVID Era’, with an elite panel of speakers comprising of Jyotsna Belliappa, Head - CSR Inspections, BlueSky Sustainability Solutions and Martin Neuretier, President, The CSR Company International with Ankush Patel, Founder and CEO, Treeni Sustainability Solutions as the moderator.

The key takeaways from the event included:

Need for better preparedness:

To create a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations, we need to accept the present situation and figure out a way to deal with it effectively and with speed. However, the current trends show that the world is not fully equipped to handle the havoc COVID-19 has caused. This notion holds especially true for the business and the political leaders, who have a confined view of the overall operations. Due to the coronavirus crisis, many enterprises and businesses in Europe and the American continents are suffering a huge loss as the Asian markets remain shut. Perhaps this is the right time when companies should be focusing upon developing local or nearer-to-home supply chains that can help revive the business units. Does your ESG policy account for risks associated with pandemics? If not, now would be a good time to revise it.

Restoring supply chains while accounting for migrations, loss of life and business uncertainty

Over the last two months, India has been a witness to millions of laborers migrating across the country. This has exposed serious supply chain vulnerabilities and has put the leaders and SCM executives in a fix. With the supply chain being broken from both ends, exploring alternatives has become a necessity.
“This migration comes the closest to what India witnessed in 1947. Mapping the social aspects of supply chain management to ISO 26000 guidelines for social responsibility will go a long way in ensuring better risk management avenues and setting compliance measures for enterprises. The social cost of this migration ties into issues of human rights and labor practices, and that’s what we need to fix first.”

- Jyotsna Belliappa, Head - CSR Inspections, BlueSky Sustainability Solutions

Strengthening existing compliance policies for better risk mitigation

Economic markets all over the world are shifting dynamically and will continue to evolve rapidly in the post COVID era. While charting out more efficient compliance policies, enterprise leaders will also have to keep in mind the expectations of the end consumer. This is the time when companies need to invest more in innovation and technology for their production and logistics management processes. Previously, compliance was mostly focused upon the Environmental factors of the ESG. However, with the changing scenario, social and governance aspects play an equally important role. Tougher legislation can be anticipated once the operations are restarted.
“I’d love for businesses to self-enlighten when it comes to sustainable operations, and that’ll be a revelation on its own! Using ESG to chart out strategic CSR criteria can add greatly to a business’s bottom line. We just need to begin thinking of the bigger picture and keep pace with this change that COVID has brought - this will lead us to the new normal.”

- Martin Neuretier, President, The CSR Company International

The role of tech to address sustainability challenges

Ever since the world entered the lockdown, corporates have been sustaining themselves via extensive use of digital mediums. Work from home has become a new normal and the use of technology tools for B2B collaboration has scaled up in the past few months. Amidst the COVID 19 pandemic, auditors have become more conscious and are leveraging technology to their advantage. In the coming months, a shift can be anticipated from normal audits to an IT platform / systems-based audit scheme. Technological innovations such as AI and machine learning can abundantly help suppliers to shift towards sustainable production and ensure cost-effectiveness. Sustainability Data Management platforms are increasingly becoming the top priority for businesses to assess their supply chains.
“Today, it is not possible to create a sustainability roadmap for your enterprise without a data and analytics backed approach. Without baselining this data, all you have are plans to scale up, but no way forward. The luxury of choice no longer exists. Either you move with it, or turn obsolete. Technology will be the biggest enabler to redefine sustainability parameters. It will also define ESG frameworks, in terms of addressing and embracing the changes in the post COVID era”

- Ankush Patel, CEO and Founder, Treeni Sustainability Solutions

While the impact and consequences of this pandemic have been no less than tragic, one cannot lose all hope. The present situation can be leveraged to act as a catalyst and help corporates adopt sustainability into their practices for a future of better preparedness in anticipating and mitigating such events. Corporates can remodel their approach towards sustainability following the ESG framework. Treeni’s resustain™, a modular SaaS-based platform automates and manages sustainability data for ESG risk and performance management, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Sustainable Supply Chains. The resustain™ platform is helping corporates to streamline their sustainability data and get a handle on all the essential parameters that go a long way in defining and aligning their business strategy.