During this global pandemic, essential workers are at the frontlines ensuring that society can continue. These individuals in our businesses, supply chains and communities are doing all they can to ensure we are fed and remain safe.

Their herculean efforts are garnering words of appreciation and support from individuals and organizations from around the world but one question, which is only now beginning to be asked is – what will happen after the pandemic when the world returns to normal?

Many of these essential workers are living pay check to pay check unable to rely on safety nets for support. They continue to struggle without the entitlements many of us have. Additionally, experts say more than 500 million people will fall into poverty due to the pandemic. The sobering reality for these persons must become our collective concern. Coming out of this pandemic requires all of us to help all of them. We need to approach these challenges with innovative thinking and a united response.

The business community needs to look at its social purpose and explore ways within supply chains and commercial relationships to make a difference in the lives of essential workers. These actions include assistance to those vulnerable groups as society undergoes an economic transformation. Furthermore, society must forge partnerships to respond to the pandemic now while assisting these vulnerable communities.

In the coming months, The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) will be launching its Human Rights Coalition, working to end forced labour, as part of the CGF’s new global strategy to accelerate collective action and help its members to drive more impactful collaborations that benefit both people and planet. As dedicated members of this Coalition, we know that we need to continue our efforts to apply the Priority Industry Principles against forced labour to address increased instances of debt bondage, coercion and other forced labour practices that essential workers may face now and after the pandemic.

These objectives are more relevant than ever to recognising invisible workers in our value chains and addressing their vulnerabilities by placing them at the heart of our business’s concerns.

Rahm Emanuel stated “never let a crisis go to waste” and as a society, we can’t afford to waste this one.

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