The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to rethink their responsibilities to society. For FUJIFILM Business Innovation Hong Kong, these difficult times have demanded an increased focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR). This has led to reorientation of our capacity towards waging a full-scale response to the worldwide pandemic.
Fujifilm helps to fight pandemic
Our company is not alone. As governments and organisations pour their resources into containing the outbreak, corporations have also brought their unique strengths to bear in fighting the virus.
We stand with companies who have unblinkingly shelved pre-pandemic objectives and reallocated their resources to directly face the crisis. Amongst other things, companies have invested in test centres,[i] retooled production lines to build ventilators,[ii] and committed millions of dollars to support vulnerable communities.[iii]
Our parent company FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation has scaled up production of our influenza antiviral drug “Avigan® Tablet” (generic name: favipiravir), which helps in treating patients with COVID-19. Avigan’s manufacturing facility will increase capacity by 250% to 100,000 treatment courses by July 2020, and we hope to ramp this up to 300,000 treatment courses by September.[iv]
In co-ordination with the Government of Japan, Fujifilm will supply 43 countries with sufficient Avigan to conduct an expanded series of trials.[v]
Sharper focus on "Society"
The global pandemic has brought the “S” part of ESG into sharper focus. Prior to the outbreak, the conventional approach to ESG emphasised environmental factors, relegating social commitments to incidental philanthropy and charity work. Today, as corporations’ resources and resolve have become increasingly strained by the pandemic, their ability to formulate ethical human resources’ policies and maintain normal business operations have come under greater scrutiny.
Now is the right time for companies to take a firm ethical position towards employees’ health and safety, thereby demonstrating their commitment to delivering on CSR values. This approach also shows how a company is making a genuine effort to be a responsible employer and, as a result, preserving its reputation and employer branding.
Companies review their risk portfolio
The COVID pandemic also provides a chance for companies to review their resilience and adaptive power, which are common terms used in ESG risk management. The World Economic Forum suggested companies use scenario analysis [vi] in assessing the impact of COVID, and enhance planning flexibility or resiliency, as this shares similar methodology with The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) [vii]. The purpose of scenario analysis is to consider and better understand how a business might perform under different future situations. Obviously, if companies have already embraced climate-related risk and opportunity in their enterprise risk portfolio, and noted these as potential business implications, these terms will not be new to them. Senior Management and the Board can initiate prompt discussions on epidemic risk mitigation, and identify options for increasing the organisation’s strategic and business resiliency.
This is a time to consider company survival, and gaining social license to operate and obtain goodwill from the community. In fact, research shows that ESG portfolios outperformed traditional market benchmarks in the recent market downturn. 88% of the sustainable indexes performed better than their non-sustainable counterparts in the first four months of 2020.[viii]
FUJIFILM Business Innovation Hong Kong quickly and decisively committed our resources to efforts to help defeat the scourge of coronavirus for good. As your business innovation partner, we provide solution to manage social data in ESG as well as remote business-related solutions to clients for keeping businesses operational in challenging times, whilst providing a safe working environment for employees.
We can do no less in this globally connected world, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on society demands a total response.
[i] "The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded up to DKK 250 million to Statens Serum Institut (SSI) in connection with the establishment of a national COVID-19 test centre." Novo Nordisk Foundation, April 28th, 2020. https://novonordiskfonden.dk/en/news/the-novo-nordisk-foundation-has-awarded-up-to-dkk-250-million-to-statens-serum-institut-ssi-in-connection-with-the-establishment-of-a-national-covid-19-test-centre/
[ii] "From making cars to ventilators." Volkswagen AG, March 30th, 2020. https://www.volkswagenag.com/en/news/2020/03/cars_to_ventilators.html
[iii] "Amgen And The Amgen Foundation Commit Up To $12.5 Million To Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts." Amgen Inc., March 23rd, 2020. https://wwwext.amgen.com/media/news-releases/2020/03/amgen-and-the-amgen-foundation-commit-up-to-%2412-5-million-to-support-covid-19-relief-efforts/
[iv] "Fujifilm accelerates production of its influenza antiviral drug “Avigan® Tablet” for COVID-19." Fujifilm, April 15th, 2020. https://www.fujifilm.com/news/n200415.html
[v] "Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu." Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 8th, 2020. https://www.mofa.go.jp/press/kaiken/kaiken4e_000791.html#topic3
[vi] "This research can help organizations plan for different COVID-19 scenarios” Article from World Economic Forum, April 2020. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/research-can-help-organizations-plan-for-different-covid-19-scenarios/
[vii] “The Use of Scenario Analysis in Disclosure of Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities” TCFD, June 2017. https://www.fsb-tcfd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/FINAL-TCFD-Technical-Supplement-062917.pdf
[viii] “BlackRock Joins Allianz, Invesco Saying ESG Outperformed” Bloomberg, May 2020. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-18/blackrock-joins-allianz-invesco-saying-esg-funds-outperformed
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