Can companies still afford to care about sustainability?

It’s a lot easier to put purpose above profit when cash is flush and times are good. Now that companies’ standard operations are being upended by the coronavirus pandemic, we’re going to see just how much they value their sustainability goals — and whether those goals survive when a business is just trying to stay afloat.

In recent years there was more interest in responsible capitalism than ever before. Between 2017 and 2020 there was a jobs bonanza in stewardship and sustainable investing teams. Corporate leaders called for unprecedented carbon emission reductions. How will those trends change in the post-pandemic era? Will social responsibility overshadow environmental responsibility as companies emerge from the crisis?

In some ways, the lockdown has made us more sustainable — the air is cleaner than it’s been in years and corporate leaders are forced to consider how to be a good employer amid record job cuts. But when we re-emerge, will companies go back to their old ways?

Members of the Financial Times’ Moral Money team Gillian Tett and Billy Nauman, along with Andrew Hill, the FT’s management editor, are here to answer your questions. Post your queries about the impact of coronavirus on corporate sustainability — both how companies aim to take care of their own people, and the environment — in the comments below, and our journalists will drop in regularly to answer them over the course of the day. 

Gillian is chair of the editorial board and US editor-at-large. She can field your questions on sustainability, markets, anthropology — or the raison d’être for launching Moral Money! Billy is a reporter and producer for Moral Money, who can answer questions on environmental, social and governance, or ESG, and impact investing. Andrew can take questions on corporate and social responsibility, long-termism, governance and wider issues of sustainable capitalism.

For more on socially responsible business, sustainable finance, impact investing and ESG trends subscribe to our twice-weekly Moral Money newsletter.

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