Building Back Better: How Are YOU Making the Best of COVID-19

Looking for professionals who turned the pandemic into an opportunity
Building Back Better: How Are YOU Making the Best of COVID-19
Publ. date 28 Oct 2020
As a second wave of COVID-19 is scourging Europe, sustainability keeps climbing on the corporate agenda. But with the many limitations posed by countermeasures, regulations, and health and safety considerations, #BuildBackBetter requires a revised approach. How are sustainability professionals dealing with these growing restrictions for advancing their sustainability programs? Below some of the best practices and easy-to-copy examples from the field are explained.

This summer, the Spanish HOLA! magazine holiday special contained an introduction that struck a chord: “During the last months, the pandemic and the confinement measures have disrupted our lives, old habits have changed and motivated new dreams for this summer. Once the most difficult part of this health scare had been overcome, the desire to move is now greater than ever, we have not lost the desire to travel. The positive side is that we will do it in a more sustainable, thoughtful and healthy way.”

With businesses struggling this fall to deal with the second wave and beyond, the same can be said of the way we work. More than ever we want to go out and meet people, learn and be challenged, in a more sustainable, thoughtful and healthy way than before. So how can the limitations caused by COVID-19 be turned around into an opportunity to more intensely engage fellow workers, value chain partners and other stakeholders on the topic of sustainability? Below are some examples.

Online sustainability education of key stakeholders

With a world that is increasingly remote, online education is rapidly growing, New courses that are shaped around the latest thinking in ESG and sustainability are providing opportunities to train green teams, teams of sustainability ambassadors across the business, C-suite executives and middle management. As can be seen in the testimonial below about IMD’s Winning Sustainability Strategies program, these online courses can act as inspiring platforms for exchange.

Having just completed IMD's Winning Sustainability Strategies course, here is my take on the five key success factors for an effective strategy encompassing sustainability:

1) A clear sense of direction through an inspiring purpose

2) A narrow list of key materialities strongly impacting both the organisation and its key stakeholders

3) At least one target with a date for each materiality to be addressed, publicly communicated

4) A strong focus on execution with selective programs to effect positive change within identified materialities, leveraging stakeholders within the ecosystem

5) Sustainability embedded into the day-to-day operations through company values, decision-making processes and objectives

The Finch & Beak Program Canvas is a useful tool to cover the key dimensions. What are your learnings? Happy to receive your comments and views!

Linkedin, Christoph Thomet, PhD, Course participant, 27th October 2020


Collective self-assessment of ESG performance

During the lockdown before summer, a global family business in the food sector decided it was time to step up their sustainability program. As a first step, all senior management team members individually performed Finch & Beak’s assessment model for ESG performance. Next, Finch & Beak was requested to perform an outside-in analysis of the company, review a group of selected peer companies and fill out the results applying the same model.

What came out was an internal and external perception of the state of the company’s sustainability program, identifying key performance gaps for further improvement. Moreover, the entire management team discussed the strategic rationale of sustainability for the company and exchanged ideas on how to improve. The whole process was fully online and conducted within three weeks.

How are YOU making the best from the Covid limitations?

In line with the live examples on self-assessment and online education, we would love to hear how you and your teams are making the best from the existing limitations. Please share your experiences, successes or even failures from the field to inspire fellow practitioners to accelerate their sustainability programs on LinkedIn.

Getting ready for 2021?

For over 20 years, Finch & Beak has supported multinationals in accelerating sustainability by developing strategies and leveraging the results from ESG benchmarks and ratings. In case you are inspired by the above examples and want to learn more about how to advance the ESG performance of your company, contact Johana Schlotter at or call  +31 6 28 02 18 80.

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