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Solomon Islands companies surveyed by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, have all experienced an impact from COVID-19 on their businesses, with 89 percent of them experiencing a reduction in demand and 78 percent a reduction in turnover or cash flow.
IFC surveyed nine Solomon Islands companies from the Waka Mere initiative during April and May to obtain a clear picture of the impacts of COVID-19 and deliver actionable business insights. Waka Mere, an initiative to promote gender equality in the private sector in Solomon Islands, was set up by IFC, and the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with the support of the Australian and New Zealand governments.
The survey showed that 56 percent of the businesses who took part may need to downsize in the next year due to impacts of COVID-19.
The findings and practical measures to implement in the wake of COVID-19 impacts were discussed at a workshop organised by IFC and attended by company representatives. In particular, insights included best practice guidance on preventing and managing the health risks of COVID-19 in the workplace and supporting workers in the context of COVID-19.
“The economic effects of COVID-19 are being felt by our employees, customers and communities,” said Michelle Maelaua, Acting HR Manager of Solomon Water and Communication Coordinator. “By adopting best practice approaches, we can support our teams through these challenging times, putting in place measures to keep workplaces safe, and protecting jobs and building resilience for businesses to operate during and after this crisis.”
IFC research found that Solomon Islands companies are prepared should there be an outbreak of COVID-19. All of those surveyed are ready to implement social distancing and provide personal protection equipment, while 67 percent have the tools needed for flexible work options. All are prepared to provide paid leave to employees who need it if they are sick with COVID-19 and 89 percent will provide paid leave for self-isolation or quarantine. Four out of the nine will provide paid leave for an employee to care for an infected family member.
“Solomon Islands companies are resilient and ready to adapt,” said Smiley Giobauta, IFC Country Officer for Solomon Islands. “Companies are taking action to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, to provide safe working conditions and to ensure business continuity.”
Of the companies surveyed, two employers believed that COVID-19 has had an impact on their employees’ experiences of domestic and sexual violence. All of the companies surveyed have domestic and sexual violence policies in place. At the workshop, companies reviewed ways to combat COVID-19-related workplace gender-based violence risks.
“Businesses can take actions to address the risks of gender-based workplace violence, improving employee and community well-being and creating resilient and safe workplaces,” said IFC Gender Operations Officer, Shabnam Hameed.
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