As the social and economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic are quickly becoming clear, including a looming recession, growing unemployment and significant operational and supply chain interruptions, the well-being of millions of workers hangs in the balance.
While it is clear that social isolation is crucial to protect workers and to control the spread of the virus, widespread layoffs by companies will only exacerbate the current economic turmoil and further destabilize markets, say the investors.
As a result, investors are taking action.
1. Investor Statement on Coronavirus Response:
A group of 322 investors representing US$9.2T led by Domini Impact Investments, ICCR and the New York City Comptroller’s Office have issued a 5-point plan for businesses to protect workers amid the crisis. Key points include:
- provide paid leave,
- prioritize health and safety,
- maintain employment,
- keep supplier/customer relationships, and
- fiscal prudence.
2. Call for Pharmaceutical Companies to Adopt a Collaborative Approach to COVID-19 Response:
On April 1st, investors sent letters to the CEOs of fourteen pharmaceutical companies calling for a collaborative approach in response to the global pandemic. Among the actions investors recommend these companies consider are:
- Share compounds, assets and data with researchers to accelerate the development of diagnostics, treatments and a vaccine;
- Widely register products as candidates for diagnostics, vaccines and medicines;
- Support governments’ decisions to issue compulsory licenses to ensure affordable prices;
- Issue voluntary licenses and explore licensing agreements with existing organizations to facilitate access;
- Support low- and middle-income countries, as they lack resources to adequately respond to the COVID-19 threat by not enforcing intellectual property rights.
Investors are additionally urging pharma companies to govern with financial prudence and to maintain a commitment to data quality and patient safety.
The following companies received the letter: AbbVie; Amgen; Biogen; Bristol-Myers Squibb; Gilead; GSK; Eli Lilly; Johnson & Johnson; Merck; Pfizer; Novartis; Roche; Sanofi; Vertex.
3. The Collateral Damage of Covid-19 in the Bangladesh Garment Sector:
Investors are calling on global brands to take 4 key steps to protect Bangladesh's garment workers:
- promptly pay suppliers for existing orders;
- prioritize worker health & safety;
- voluntary-only overtime; and
- no punishment of suppliers for Covid-related delays.
4. Investor Letter to 43 Apparel & Footwear Brands Urging then to Safeguard Workers During Pandemic:
Workers in the apparel and footwear sector have been especially squeezed during the pandemic as global brands cancel and/or reduce previously confirmed orders and, in some cases refuse or delay payment for already completed work. Migrant workers are particularly at risk. Investors are sending letters to the 43 apparel and footwear brands named in KnowTheChain’s December 2018 report on forced labor risk. Two additonal leters will be sent to Next and Urban Outfitters which are included in KnowTheChain’s 2020/2021 benchmark report.
5. Joint Statement Calling on Governments to Ensure Corporate Accountability in Response to COVID-19
ICCR signed onto this May 6 statement calling for
- human rights and environmental due diligence
- worker protections
- sensible implementation of government stimulus
- integration of supply chain impacts
- public disclosure & transparency
- support for at-risk populations, and
- access to remedy
Read the press statement.