New research reveals biggest challenges facing business due to COVID-19 and sectors most affected

  • Responses from 3,346 businesses across 118 countries reveal that the garment and footwear sector and construction are sectors most affected by the pandemic
  • 43% of businesses report their biggest challenge is supply chain disruption and the inability to secure raw materials and transport
  • 99% of all businesses are taking actions to protect the health and safety of their workforce during the pandemic
  • One third of businesses are experiencing a surplus of labour, while another third is experiencing labour shortages, particularly in essential services such as agriculture and food processing industries

27 May 2020, London

Sedex, one of the world’s leading ethical trade membership organisations, has published a COVID-19 impacts report based on a survey of its 60,000-membership base, revealing how businesses are dealing with worker safety, supply chain disruption and economic impacts.

Issues vary from sector to sector, with some harder hit than others, with the garment and footwear and construction sectors experiencing the most economic challenges.

37% of businesses have too many workers employed with less work and have been forced to lay off workers, reduce hours or furlough their workforce.

56% of suppliers state that their customers are taking supportive actions, rising to 72% in service provider sectors such as cleaning and transport and logistics, though 20% of suppliers have had orders cancelled by customers.

Sedex’s Director of Responsible Sourcing, Magali Martowicz, states that “collaboration between buyers and suppliers, as well as world governments, will be critical to recovering from the impacts of COVID-19 and creating supply chain resilience. Sedex strongly recommends that businesses support their suppliers so they can continue operations and provide decent and safe jobs for workers. This means engaging in constructive dialogue and improving purchasing practices, wherever possible”.

Sedex recommends that much more needs to be done collectively to address industry-wide challenges. These findings show a high degree of consistency within sectors, and many problems cannot be addressed by individual businesses alone. We urge buyers, supplying companies and governments to collaborate and develop common solutions to critical challenges.

Download the full report here.

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