Sustainability Corner; CSR Reset: An opportunity to do better

CSR and Sustainability reporting has been with us for a while, but businesses are just beginning to understand its potential and importance.
Ebenezer ASUMANG & Romein VAN STADEN
  • “Alone is Hard. Together is Better.” 

Simon SINEK, author, and public speaker

How do we reset? In these uncertain and turbulent times, it’s one of the pressing questions on everyone’s lips. Arriving at a single, particular answer is, of course, impossible. So instead, extrapolating from a range of current trends, we offer a possible preview of the changes we can expect to see and provide a synopsis of the status quo.

Of course, the most significant shaping influence of 2021 was the global pandemic and associated efforts around the protection of lives and well-being, vaccination, and economic recovery. While we might wish otherwise, this is highly likely to be true in 2022, with the Omicron variant, which is still prevalent, reminding us of the virus’s dynamism and unpredictability.

Albeit, we should see this not as the end of something, although we are all waiting for the pandemic to be over. But we should see it as part of our sustainability journey. Undoubtedly, it is complex, challenging, and relentless, with almost no end in sight. But we know definitely that our lives need to continue, not as regular as some of us expect and others predict. In truth, life, as we know it now, will never be the same afterwards.

We have gone through other sudden, and earth-shattering events before that have shaken up our existence and that of the business world. These events sometimes force companies out of operations and go bust, like the financial crisis in 2008.

Let’s think about what the Internet did? The advent of the Internet spelled the end of many businesses that failed to adapt to change and the new way of doing business. COVID forced companies and people to adjust; some did so proactively and did very well, like Amazon. And others did so defensively, and they are still trying to figure it out.

The stark reality is that we have to adapt to the changing times, the new technologies, new businesses, new competition, and embrace new modus operandi. Indeed the pandemic is way more sudden, more terrifying, and disruptive. We have to adapt as individuals as expected from companies to adapt to this quicksilver environment created by the pandemic.

What would this reset look like?

The pandemic can inspire more decisive action from governments, businesses, and individuals. It can also mean behavioural trends and changes like less international travel, more working from home,  and new supply chain models.

When considering how we would reset, we would like to highlight in brief these trends as worthy of our attention:

  • Unleashing ESG

The rise in importance of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) in investment strategies coupled with new policies such as the European Union’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation is helping solidify ESG as a mainstream business concept influencing investment returns and corporate strategy. As a result, environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations now permeate investment strategies. However, whether ESG is merely a smokescreen that businesses might use to distract from a lack of tangible progress on critical societal issues is debatable. This we will only know in the foreseeable future.

  • Changes in the employer-employee relationship

Still, amid the pandemic, workplaces and the employer-employee relationship continue to change. These changes include more remote “working from home” and flexible working arrangements to greater focus on employee well-being and corporate purpose. And the scale of this transformation suggests these changes will last long beyond the pandemic era. Nevertheless, the pandemic has fundamentally changed how we approach and think of work.

Well, there are also some drawbacks to this newfound employer-employee relationship. By employing “flexible” temporary and freelance workers, companies like Uber and Amazon avoid providing their workers with essential benefits such as paid time off, health insurance, and retirement schemes.

  • Weathering the climate crisis

While COP26 and the mixed reactions to its outcomes are still fresh and raw in our minds, let’s reflect on what might be the implications. First, to state that 2022 will be a critical year for climate action. This year, governments, businesses, and society as a whole are challenged to do better, do more and accelerate the pace of change to stop the surge of the current crisis. Increasing attention to climate justice has also been a welcome development, with equity issues related to climate impacts becoming a vital part of more significant climate and environmental conversations. However, what is needed is structural change.

One of the short-term impacts of COVID-19 has been a decline in CO2 emissions. Also, businesses face increasing expectations to determine their net-zero targets, while leading to rigorous scrutiny of net-zero commitment will increase over time.

There is much work to do to adapt and prepare ourselves for the climate change that is already underway.

  • Future-proof technology

The technological innovation, fastened by the pandemic, has sped the integration of technology into every aspect of business, including sustainability. By the look of things, companies will deepen the use of advanced technologies to create more sustainable and equitable practices. Enterprises are rapidly transitioning the migration of their systems to the cloud, updated remote meeting and conference platforms, and other remote working capabilities. In doing, so companies have also accelerated the digitalization of customer interactions, in many cases implementing changes way ahead sooner than planned pre-pandemic.

But even as digital advances bring benefits to many, it is equally apparent that the new forms and widespread adoption of virtual work have widened the digital divide between those with access to the technology and those without it. Remote work has been limited to traditional white-collar jobs with decent internet access and appropriate home-work environments, but many do not have these luxuries.

Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used by a growing number of businesses to improve their services and products. AI is likely to play a pivotal role in almost every sector. Technology has proven to be an excellent tool in the quest for climate change. However, technology is a massive benefit, maybe even necessary for ending the climate crisis. But caution must be taken to use it responsibly. Technologies always have their drawbacks.


In conclusion, the trends frequently refer to pandemic-related impacts, including how the pandemic continues to shape the workplace and its implications on supply chain disruption, workplace environments, workers’ rights, and access to technology. Therefore, we must focus on the sustainability long game, constantly looking at trends and how they shape and reshape our corporate and societal landscapes.

Finally, we suggest that companies act with more urgency, commitment, and intent. We will need to reset how we treat the environment. To anticipate the challenges and embrace the pandemic’s opportunities, we will need to be informed about what the future holds.

Our collective response to the pandemic and the challenges we face is vital. However, we may reset from the pandemic, improved collaboration is imperative. We stand at a crossroads. We can regress and go back to how things were before, or similar to it, or we path a new way to make the necessary changes.


Figueres, Christiana, and Rivett-Carnac, Tom (2020): The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis. Knopf Publishers.

Gates, Bill (2021): How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions we have and the Breakthroughs we need. Allen Lane.

Guillen, F. Mauro (2020): 2030: How Todays Biggest Trends will collide and Reshape the Future of Everything. St Martins PR.

Schwab, Klaus and Malleret, Thierry (2020): COVID-19: The Great Reset. Forum Publishing.

ERM (2022): What’s Next for Sustainable Business?

About the Writers:

Romein is a (self-confessed) Pan-Africanist by heart. Romein is a multi-disciplinary professional with experience in various sectors. Contact him via ([email protected])

Ebenezer is a Development Communication Specialist, MSME & SDG Enthusiast, Finance & Investment Nomad and a WriterPreneur. He`s Country Director (Ag) of PIRON Global Development GmbH, Ghana (   Contact him via ([email protected])


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