15 December 2020

Companies will be more sustainable after COVID-19 II

The first part of this article can be found here.

How has COVID-19 affected the purpose and modus operandi of companies? Taking advantage of the international and collaborative nature of our network, we have made a virtual trip around the world based on the experiences of the Impact Hubs in Boston, Florianópolis, Taipei, Shanghai, Bamako, Lisbon, Vienna, and Madrid. Care to join us?

Equity and positive impact on American business

Making companies aware that they have this ability to generate a positive impact with their economic activity, making them aware of their social responsibility and working towards sustainability, with objectives such as racial equity, are among the priorities of Impact Hub Boston, according to its CEO and founder Geoff Mamlet for whom “there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally disrupted many businesses and will continue to shape business in the USA for some time to come.”

Brazil: setback in social policies vs private and local proactivity

Brazil continues to rely on the capacity of local governments and private entities to promote social and environmental impact in a complicated political and economic context in which there has been a setback in environmental, educational and even human rights policies, as described by Talita Matos CEO of Impact Hub Floripa, who is optimistic about the survival of socially and environmentally responsible companies: “We have witnessed movements and initiatives with a positive impact of all kinds. The pandemic has accelerated a series of wishes that have been urgent in the context of social isolation ”.

COVID-19 and openness in China

Also in China, the first nation to register COVID-19 cases at the end of 2019, they advocate a change of attitude towards sustainability. Fei Xiaojing, CEO of Impact Hub Shanghai, affirms that “the change of conscience of the consumers will also affect the companies in some way”. Their government is promoting policies that will encourage companies to adopt a more responsible business approach from a social and environmental point of view. In fact, there are already local governments creating alliances with private companies and non-profit organizations to carry out joint projects related to the response to the pandemic.

In the Asian country, COVID-19 has meant opening up to the rest of the world in a nation with high restrictions on the internet by the government. “Now it is more accepted both to participate in foreign webinars and to disseminate good practices with the rest of the Impact Hub worldwide,” says the leader of the innovation space.

Austria and Portugal, optimistic towards a better world

In Europe, Austria stands as an example to follow due to the rapid reaction to the coronavirus and plans to have the vaccine ready in January 2021. The lockdown there also brought social and environmental innovation to the fore. In the words of Barbara Inmann, Managing Director of Impact Hub Vienna: “The crisis created another awareness about which jobs are relevant to the system, what effects the climate crisis could have and how we should work together. It remains to be seen what changes will actually stick or be made. (…) My belief and hope is that the social and environmental impact will be as relevant as the financial benefits for any business, since only then will a world that works for everyone be possible.

Like Austria, Portugal was a success story in tackling the coronavirus crisis thanks to the political collaboration between the government and the opposition. In this context, the Managing Director of Impact Hub Lisbon, Francesco Rocca, launches a challenge and proposes a solution: “How do we integrate social and environmental ambitions in companies to the same level as economic ambitions are now? Bets such as the triple bottom line, economies of impact or purpose, as well as a more ethical financial market aligned with financing all those companies that decisively contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, are essential to fulfill this claim. “

In short, the Impact Hub spaces have identified similar symptoms in a work system that is shedding its skin: COVID-19 has meant a global change, establishing much more open and innovative concepts and giving rise to a business ethic that establishes a balance between economic, social and environmental benefits. All of this by creating lively, multidisciplinary, innovative and international communities.

This crisis has shown that we are all connected and that what happens in an isolated corner of the world can have a positive or negative impact on a global level. From Lisbon, Rocca has no doubts: “We depend on each other. When are we going to learn this? “

This article is a translation and adaptation of this one first published here in Spanish.