Jane Turnbull from EOG makes the case that CSR is not just for the good times, but is especially in everybody’s best interests while in the midst of turmoil such as the pandemic and climate crises.

Only a couple years ago, CSR was experiencing a golden era as it moved from the status of side-project to main-stage for an increasing number of outdoor brands and suppliers. The supply chain chaos that proceeded the arrival of Covid-19, however, placed much of this work on hold, and in recent months it has become clear that the pandemic is not over yet. New challenges and disruption continue to present themselves, including material shortages, increased demand and fluctuating Covid-19 restrictions. All of which have formed a perfect storm for the supply chain, not least for the workers within.

Orders canceled one minute, followed by off the scale demand the next, supply halted on account of one missing element – magnesium for aluminum in outdoor equipment to name but one. Simply put, these circumstances are challenging for even the most agile of businesses and clearly illustrate how fragile and interconnected supply chains have become.

The subsequent pressure generated is passed down the supply chain, with workers facing increased overtime, job and financial insecurity and, shockingly, child labor increasing for the first time since its downwards trend began two decades ago.

During the First Wave, the apparel sector was heavily rebuked for canceled orders; suppliers were left unable to pay workers which led to subsequent mass redundancies of workers. Yet as pressure on supply grows, so does the challenge to keep CSR high on the agenda to prevent further disintegration of the supply chains that form the foundation brands stand upon.

The question of how industry can weather these challenges continues, not to mention other ongoing crises such as climate change which will only increase these risks. Now that the pandemic has revealed just how interconnected we all are, however, it has become clear that advocating for a collaborative supply chain that works with suppliers and workers to support all offers the best chance for everyone.

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