Times of crisis have a way of shining a light on an organization's true colors. Although fear, change, and health concerns have experienced all-time highs over the past few weeks, there have been moments where humanity comes together, and for a split second, it feels like things are going to be okay. So let’s talk about one of the silver linings of the current global pandemic: companies that are doing the right thing.
The good (read: heartwarming) news is that lots of companies are stepping up to help during the world’s time of need. At GAN, this is particularly special to us, not only because it is our mission (empowering organizations to do the right thing) but also because this is truly the standard that organizations should be held to. Now more than ever, ethics matter. How your organization navigates COVID-19 matters.
It would be a long, potentially never-ending, task to mention every single company contributing to the greater good during the pandemic (again: silver lining) so we will focus on 10 inspiring ways that organizations are doing the right thing:
1. Pivoting to Hand Sanitizer
As the pandemic emerged, consumers began clearing shelves of hand sanitizers quickly causing global shortages. A handful of unexpected heroes have helped by pivoting factories to produce the much-needed solution and donating it to healthcare workers who need supplies the most.
The spirits industry has done a tremendous job providing hand sanitizer. Nationally recognized companies such as Pernod Ricard, Diageo, and AB InBev are taking part in producing hand sanitizer as well as many local distilleries. AB InBev, the producer of Budweiser, Budlight, and Corona (the beer), have donated almost 3 million bottles of hand sanitizer and disinfectant to hospitals across more than 20 countries.
The beauty industry also came to humanity’s aid: French luxury conglomerate LVMH joined the fight by turning its perfumes business into a hand sanitizer manufacturer. L’Oréal also offered up its factories to produce hand sanitizer and hydro alcoholic gel to distribute throughout Europe.
2. Making Masks
Masks have become another critical item in short supply. While the debate over who should wear masks went on for weeks in the western world, medical workers and hospitals ran critically low on their only line of defense against the virus. Thankfully, many companies have stepped in to help.
Apple increased the number of face masks needed for healthcare workers both in the US and Europe to 20 million, doubling the amount they had previously committed to providing. Inditex, the owner of the retail store Zara, announced that it will donate masks to coronavirus patients and health officials in Spain. Prada is making 80,000 hospital gowns and 110,000 masks for healthcare professionals and menswear company Brooks Brothers announced it will produce 150,000 masks daily.
Honeywell is partnering with the US government to expand its manufacturing operations to produce N95 face masks that protect the wearer from breathing in airborne particles. Not only will this help with the supply of masks, but the expansion will create 500 more jobs in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
It’s also worth noting that many companies have done their part by donating their goods or services to help healthcare workers. Crocs committed to donating 10,000 pairs of its signature foam shoes per day to workers in the United States to make sure they can stay clean and be comfortable through their “A Pair for Healthcare” program. Headspace is offering free access to Headspace Plus for all US healthcare professionals working in public health settings and all NHS healthcare professionals.
3. Partnering to Build Resources
Some of the most powerful and influential companies in the world have started working together to combine resources in an unprecedented way.
Google and Apple announced a rare joint project to create a Bluetooth-based contact-tracing program that can work across both iOS and Android phones. The app would track if the owner has come into contact with someone who later turns out to have been infected with COVID-19. Once alerted, that user can then self-isolate or get tested themselves. Be on the lookout for updates on this project over the coming weeks as it is set to launch mid-May.
Another large collaboration has been between IBM, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and others, who have established the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium. The project aims to donate computing resources to empower researchers around the world to accelerate understanding of the COVID-19 virus and the development of treatments and vaccines to help address infections.
4. Supporting Local Communities
While some companies are attacking the global problem, other organizations have provided relief to the areas their employees and communities have been most impacted.
Nevada Gold Mines, a Barrick Gold venture and the single largest gold-producing complex in the world, has committed $1.5 million to the Nevada COVID-19 Response, Relief, and Recovery Task Force, along with offering up their supply chain to help relief efforts.
The city of San Francisco started a coronavirus aid fund with a $1.5 million donation from Salesforce. Salesforce also gave $1 million to the UCSF COVID-19 response fund and are matching employees’ donations to all eligible organizations during this time.
Bank of America committed $100 million to support local communities in need as the world faces unprecedented challenges from the coronavirus. The bank also announced additional support for its 66 million Consumer and Small Business clients to provide access to the important financial services on which these clients rely.
To help small businesses anywhere in the world, platforms with wide reach are rolling out new features. Take, for example, Instagram by Facebook who made it easier to feature gift cards, food orders, and fundraisers in business profiles. Hopefully, this will be a tool that the 7.5 million small businesses at risk of permanently closing over the next five months will be able to leverage to better weather the storm.
5. Taking Care of Employees
While the unemployment rate has continued to spike, some employers have taken steps to protect their employees from both a financial and health standpoint.
Major retailers including Walmart, Target, and Amazon have been able to invest in front-line workers during this time. Target made a $300 million investment in employees related to COVID-19 including paying $2 more per hour and giving bonuses for those working to support the country through essential services.
Many employers, including Microsoft, have pledged to continue to pay hourly workers even if they spend less time on the clock because of coronavirus. They will continue to pay all their vendor hourly service providers their regular pay during this period of reduced service needs.
Ally Financial is an example of one of the many organizations that moved most of their workforce (8,700 employees in Ally’s case) to work from home in just a few days. Ally went above and beyond by providing additional equipment to people who need it and getting al employees set up with the internet to ensure a smooth transition to working remotely.
“Make sure ‘human’ is prioritized in human resources. At Ally, we’ve been driven by what’s right—just like our mantra to ‘Do It Right’—and we will do whatever we can to support the well-being of customers and employees.” said Kathie Patterson, Chief Human Resources Officer told Forbes.
6. Keeping Services On
On the consumer side of things, telecommunications companies are doing their part to help customers who may have fallen on hard financial times. All AT&T home internet customers can now use unlimited data and residential customers who are experiencing economic hardship will get additional relief for the next 60 days. AT&T has even given a 20% bonus for frontline employees.
Verizon gave all customers 15gb of free data, suspended data caps, have not shut off customers who couldn’t pay, offered free international calling so loved ones can stay connected, and even pledged $2.5 million to assist small businesses impacted by the virus.
Telus, the national Canadian telecommunications company, waived home internet overages and roaming fees, provided customers with flexible payment options, and provided free channels and learning resources.
Comcast has given all customers unlimited data for no additional charge and announced they will not disconnect services or charge late fees. On top of that, Xfinity WiFi hotspots located in businesses and outdoor locations across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free.
7. Designing Ventilators
According to the latest numbers, 10% of patients infected by COVID-19 will require respiratory support machines and global shortages have received prime time news coverage for weeks. Companies across many industries have answered the global call for ventilators and while these companies are not expected to profit from this pivot it does help secure the employment for their staff at a time when many would otherwise have to shut down production.
Auto manufacturers General Motors, Tesla, and Ford have all pledged their support to offer resources in the US. In Britain, aerospace multinational Airbus has led the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium, which brings together rival manufacturers from a range of industries in a unified effort to increase the number of ventilators. Engineering firm Rolls-Royce and aerospace company BAE Systems are among those offering their facilities to build more machines based on proven designs already used by medical device manufacturers.
Dyson has committed to producing 10,000 ventilators for the UK and donating another 5,000 abroad. Although Dyson is best known for its innovation in vacuum cleaners, it will work alongside The Technology Partnership, a group of British scientists and engineers aiming to drive innovation, to design a new ventilator, called the CoVent.
8. Making Massive Donations
Yet another way organizations are helping during this time is financially by making generous donations to COVID-19 relief efforts. Cisco committed to donating $225 million to the global response of COVID-19. Google offered $800 million to COVID-19 relief which includes ad credits. Facebook pledged to give $100 million for small businesses affected by the virus and The Tata Group, which includes Tata Trusts and Tata Sons, joined the fight against coronavirus and will together donate approximately $200 million towards the coronavirus relief fund.
9. Keeping Classrooms Learning
With the shelter in place and lockdown orders in place across the globe, not only has work shifted online (where possible) but schools and education have been severely interrupted as they transition to a new virtual learning format. To help ease these transitions, a few companies have stepped up to the plate.
Logitech has launched a program for k-12 teachers to receive free webcams and headsets as they transition to virtual teaching. Zoom is offering it’s products for free to schools and has lifted its 40-minute meeting limit to allow for longer lessons. Zoom has emerged as one of the leading tools to keep students learning (and businesses running as they transition to working from home).
10. Working on a Solution
While making a medical breakthrough has obvious financial benefits, this does not diminish the value that it would provide worldwide. The good news is biotech companies are responding faster than ever to emerging health threats with 21 companies currently working on a vaccine or treatment.
Gilead is working closely with global health authorities to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak through the appropriate experimental use of the investigational compound remdesivir. This includes providing antiviral expertise and resources to help patients and communities fighting COVID-19.
Moderna received funding from CEPI in January to develop an mRNA vaccine against COVID-19. Clinical trials are currently taking place. Other big players include Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson.
How is Your Organization Doing the Right Thing?
Thank you to each and every company doing something to help through the crisis. While it is difficult to see the hardships the world is going through due to COVID-19, it has been very uplifting to see organizations of all sizes leap to humanity's aid.
Compliance teams should always play a key role in crisis management and now, more than ever, need to be involved in the next steps. Not only do the quick pivots needed to survive in today’s new normal bring additional or different risks to the table, but the crisis also puts a spotlight on the organization’s ethical practices. Times of massive change can be opportunities for organizations to further instill ethics into their business practices.
To see our response to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Customer Resource Center.