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Q&A with Gavin Pitchford, Clean50 Awards Executive Director and CEO of sustainability search firm Delta Management Group

With our economy reeling from the impact of COVID-19, where does this leave us on sustainability issues?

Naked. I think the pandemic served to expose the same kind of weaknesses climate change will impact: the areas where businesses and supply chains are not resilient. And this can give us valuable insights for creating a comprehensive plan for transitioning to a clean economy.

What can we learn from the pandemic?

We have seen extraordinary changes that prove that we can mobilize support and do things differently. Take the tremendous number of people now working from home, for example. By accommodating flexible work arrangements and home offices where possible, businesses can help to eliminate emissions related to transportation, insulate their workforce from extreme weather events and often experience increased productivity. Less traffic also means the people who need to go to workplaces can cut their commute time. These shifts can be encouraged to continue.

What do businesses gain from a commitment to sustainability?

Companies with strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) performances typically experience various benefits, such as increased employee and customer loyalty and a boost in brand recognition. Many Clean50 leaders see an increased focus on ESG internally leading to better business performance, better access to capital and markets, and stronger supply chains. When companies pay attention to sustainability and the environment, and take steps to reduce their impact, this boosts their resilience. We find that many stakeholders and investors now recognize that poor ESG scores represent a risk factor – and expose a less well-run business.

Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s Editorial Department was not involved in its creation.