COVID-19: How Companies Are Responding
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve on a daily and almost hourly basis, it is an “all-hands-on-deck” situation to mitigate the health crisis that requires government, nonprofits, business and individual citizens to act and support. As we all seek to better understand how companies can be a positive force during uncertain times, we’ve rounded up a few examples of companies stepping up to support coronavirus mitigation:
- Providing basic necessities: According to health experts, handwashing remains one of the best lines of prevention of coronavirus spread and contraction. Lush was one of the first companies to provide coronavirus support through offering free handwashing to anyone, no purchase necessary. As a soap store, Lush leveraged its stores, soaps and sinks to provide a basic but necessary service.
- Bolstering affected employee benefits: As the virus continues to impact communities, it has also shone a light on the impact to part-time or contract individuals without substantive health care. To ensure employees don’t need to make the choice between going to work sick or sacrificing pay, Starbucks is temporarily extending its catastrophe pay to cover any COVID-19 affected employees. This policy means “any Starbucks employee that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has come into contact with someone who has will receive up to 14 days of full pay” as they self-isolate. Employees over the age of 60, those who are pregnant or individuals with underlying heart disease or lung disease issues are also eligible.
- Lending support through products and services: During a time of school closures, major events postponement and remote working, the world is increasingly seeking out more virtual options – and companies are responding by removing paywalls and increasing access to products. Google announced it will allow free access to the “advanced” features of Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers through July 1 (usually an additional $13 per user per month charge) and Microsoft is offering a free six-month trial for its premium tier of Microsoft Teams globally.
- Donating to targeted areas: As Italy faces a country-wide lockdown, brands are stepping in to lend support. A leader in the Italian fashion industry, Giorgio Armani group is donating $1.43 million dollars to combat the rapid virus spread in Italy, with funds being split between three Milan-based hospitals and Rome’s Spallanzani hospital, in addition to the Civil Protection Agency, which helps manage emergency events.
As the global situation continues to progress, how, when and where companies should lend support is still very uncharted territory. Unlike disaster relief, there is no roadmap or recipe for company involvement. However, companies must continue to keep their employees in mind, understand evolving consumer and community needs and offer up products, services, resources or funding when appropriate. As COVID-19 unfolds, we will continue to track how companies are stepping up.