As interest in environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters has grown among the business community globally, environmental issues and governance issues have attracted the most attention. However, the social changes that are rapidly occurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the “S” in ESG into focus. Issues around health care, employee welfare, labour rights and supply chains must be considered, not only by business owners, managers and employees, but also by asset owners and investors. This article provides a high-level framework for understanding social issues in all contexts, and then highlights some specific points arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic to consider for asset managers and other market participants, with or without an ESG mandate.
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