It’s not on many corporations’ ESG bingo cards, but “encouraging citizens to be considerate of others” certainly comes to mind when considering the news of the past few weeks. Ongoing resistance to vaccinations, the threat of the COVID Delta variant and what that all means for the fragile economic recovery — and quite frankly, our social and mental health recovery — should be top of mind for companies and everyday citizens alike. World Mask Week and more awareness surrounding this event offer organizations one way to do good for society.
Leading the charge for publicizing World Mask Week includes the Pandemic Action Network, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, 3M and more than 50 global and regional partner organizations. The campaign seeks to unmask a universal truth: Wearing face masks in public, along with handwashing and social distancing, are still among the best ways people can protect themselves and others against COVID-19, especially at a time when many countries are in overdrive to vaccinate their citizens.
"Last year, with the first World Mask Week, we sparked a global movement in 117 countries to wear masks. This year, as the pandemic persists in much of the world, we're coming together around the message that masking still matters and to show gratitude for those who have worn a mask and continue to mask up," said Eloise Todd, co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network, in a public statement.
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Whenever and however the global pandemic recedes, the reality is that society needs to decide if mask wearing should continue as a means to improve public health. Plenty of evidence suggests that the wearing of masks during the pandemic made a difference when it came to stalling the spread of the common cold and flu; at least one study has concluded that the wearing of masks was also linked to a steep plunge in the rate of pediatric respiratory illnesses.
Many companies will respond that they have enough on their plate in dealing with the post-pandemic work environment, including the challenges involved in convincing employees that returning to the office is a safe decision for everyone. But as fall and winter draw closer on the calendar, it’s hard to dispute the data suggesting that wearing a mask is one of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and just about any other virus-induced illness. Furthermore, as we’ve seen just about everywhere from Instagram to Red Bubble to Etsy, the mask business has unleashed its fair share of creativity and entrepreneurship in the name of helping us to make a small fashion statement, too.
World Mask Week shouldn’t just be a 2020 or 2021 thing. Wearing masks has become one of the most effective ways to stall the spread of diseases, and companies seeking to check some ESG boxes would be wise to support such a global effort.
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked an lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.