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Why social responsibility should be a factor in the recovery from coronavirus

As the chartered body for our profession, Association for Project Management (APM) is responsible for setting standards and leading by example on behalf of the entire project community.

Taking on the role of chief executive in any organisation makes you aware of the wide range of responsibilities you have outside of the obvious one of ensuring your organisation thrives, but neither myself nor APM’s Board ever anticipated challenges like the ones posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

These challenges have been particularly pressing because they affect not only projects and businesses, but people and communities; the impacts are emotional as well as economic.

Every decision APM has made during the outbreak has taken this into consideration. We are passionate about the wellbeing of those we represent, making flexibility, adaptability and innovation more important than ever for helping people during this difficult period.

We have started offering online access to all our qualifications, products and services; provided free-to-access webinars and blogs that offer advice and support on a range of issues including mental health; and we are stepping up our communication to make sure people feel connected and informed at all times. None of these measures totally make up for the impact on some people, particularly those who have been furloughed and feel disconnected from their organisation or those who are struggling to balance personal and work needs. However, we will continue to do all we can to help make things better for as many people as possible.

We also recently made the decision to move all our major conferences and events for 2020 to new virtual environments and we hope project professionals will still participate in them. Face-to-face conferences generate significant revenue for APM, but we know this decision is the right thing.

The reason for this decision is based on what the Board and I see as necessary if we are to play our part in a sustainable recovery. It will ensure the safety of our members, employees and those within the project community while opening up access and allowing many more people to participate. It is of course entirely possible that people will be able to gather safely in large groups by the time these events take place in the autumn and winter – and some may be keen to do so – but is that what we want to happen in the ‘new normal’ we will all be working together to create?

Switching from physical to virtual events is neither simple nor cost-free. When analysing paths for moving forward, it was clear that cheaper, easier options were available. But these were not the right options for us or the profession we represent.

APM aspires to do the right thing and that is challenging when there are so many different perspectives but in this case, we strongly felt it was the right thing to do.

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