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The global coronavirus has disrupted life in unimaginable ways and it has become very clear that our underlying social fabric may never be the way it ‘used to be.’ This pandemic has made it impossible to ignore the gaps in mental health awareness, lack of workplace policies to effectively support employees and the social inequalities in America.
In just the past week, first-time jobless claims totaled 1.4 million, and nearly 49 million jobless claims have been filed since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in March. Becoming unemployed is inextricably linked to having a negative impact on mental health, and there are other contributing factors in the workplace, including:
- Inadequate health and safety policies
- Poor communication and management
- Limited decision-making abilities
- Lack of support for employees
- Inflexible working hours
- Lack of clarity with roles and responsibilities
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 264 million people suffer from depression across the world. In the U.S., nearly one in five adults live with a mental illness. It is expected that only 41 percent of people who had a mental disorder in the past year received professional health care or other services.
The cost of poor employee mental health to businesses is significant:
- $80 billion to $100 billion in annual costs to U.S. businesses.
- $193 billion in lost earnings per year.
- 400 million lost work days annually due to depression.
- $1 trillion lost to the global economy each year in lost productivity
It’s not only good business, but socially responsible to create a healthy, progressive workplace that creates awareness for, and validates the importance of mental health.
Employers who prioritize mental health with treatment programs, workplace safety policies and progressive awareness initiatives not only increase productivity, secure their bottom line, but also create a viable and engaged workforce. Ultimately, prioritizing the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees will increase profit, improve lives, and transform culture.
The wakeup call for sustainability is loud and clear. A new era of sustainability is emerging, and it’s affecting every aspect of the world. Consumers are increasingly motivated to be more environmentally and socially conscious and are exercising their power and voice through the products they buy and the companies that they invest in. According to Hotwire:
- 47% of internet users worldwide said they had switched to a different product or service because a company violated their personal values.
- Protecting the environment topped the list of reasons consumers switched, and 5% cited concerns about climate change.
Balancing act of benevolence & bankable
Corporations are stepping up to sustainability, understanding that this just makes good business sense. According to our latest whitepaper Finance for Good: The Positive Impact of Active Ownership, we see a shift in shareholder resolutions with focus on environmental and social factors. And, an increasing number of institutional investors are backing these resolutions.
Companies do well by doing good
From our own proprietary research, we’ve seen that firms with more gender diversity on Boards and higher social factor scores perform better as a standalone measurement. Despite the economic downturn in the first quarter of 2020, socially-minded companies lost significantly less than those without a sound socially-conscious strategy.
In 2019, shares of the 100 companies on Barron’s “America’s Most Sustainable Companies” list returned 34.3% on average, beating the S&P 500′s 31.5%. It’s clear that sustainable investments - those focused on companies with strong environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) principles are filtering into the public consciousness. The adverse effects of material issues such as climate change, gender inequality, financial exclusion, and resource scarcity are a wakeup call to stakeholders and shareholders, alike. Our view at Aneuvia Asset Management is that sustainable investing not only increases intrinsic value, but also produces greater financial returns.
Learn more about Aneuvia’s sustainable investing solutions.