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David A. Katz and Laura McIntosh. Courtesy photos David A. Katz and Laura McIntosh. Courtesy photos

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a societal crisis of far-reaching implications. For the moment, employee, environmental, social and governance (EESG) concerns may appear to have taken a back seat to economic survival, but in the longer term, a robust corporate response will require firms to re-evaluate their priorities. Once the economic recovery has begun in earnest, there is likely to be heightened investor interest in, and public scrutiny of, key areas of EESG, particularly as they relate to firm performance, human capital and enterprise resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the nexus between corporate performance and societal wellbeing has never been stronger. The potential role of major corporations in perpetuating global inequities and exacerbating the disparate effects of large-scale crises, and their capacity to ameliorate human suffering through private sector action in support of government initiatives, are indisputable. For better or worse, the pandemic and future crises are likely to increase the extent to which the public perceives large corporations as entities that can and should bear a heavy burden of corporate social responsibility.

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