Confronting Covid-19: meaningful ways companies are combatting the crisis

This blog is written by MSc student, Steffie Clement, who completed a placment at Brodie International Sustainability and Responsible Business Consultancy.

The Covid-19 crisis has hit us all in unimaginable ways, and the future beyond the pandemic feels very distant right now. Through the stress and uncertainty, we’ve witnessed unbelievable strength and compassion from communities and key workers across the world. In these unprecedented moments it can be understandably hard for business leaders to know who, when and how to help. While the will is there, the way remains unclear. At BRODIE, we have been sharing stories and taking inspiration from companies responding to the pandemic with positivity and kindness. Through this blog, we hope to offer what guidance we can for those wishing to realize positive change.

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

Look after people.

Employees are the heart of any and every business. It is a priority for any company at this time to ensure that their people are safe and healthy. Be generous and caring of your teams and be sure to check-in with each other regularly. Many companies are offering extended sick leave to employees, and Morrisons has created a dedicated staff “hardship fund” for those affected during the crisis. If you are able to, extend this kindness to your wider ecosystem. What support can you offer to your suppliers, your building management, your contract staff? Use this time to strengthen core business relationships. Microsoft, for example, has announced that it will keep paying hourly workers who support its campus. 

Listen to the community.

There are those in the community who will be more vulnerable to the crisis. Older people, those with disabilities, people on lower incomes; these groups have already been identified as being at a higher risk. Reach out to local charities and community groups to see how your company can help. The Trussell Trust runs the UK’s largest network of food banks and has local donation and drop-off points. The same goes for Beauty Banks which launched its #helpinghands campaign to get hygiene and personal care products to those in need. At a time when volunteering may prove difficult, think about what resource you have to offer instead; donations (financial or in-kind) will undoubtedly be in high demand at this time. Guinness has launched a €1.5 million fund to support hospitality workers and older people in Ireland affected by the pandemic, and Chelsea Football Club is offering NHS staff the use of its Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge for accommodation and rest.

Do what you do best.

While it may feel like business is slowing down for some, for others it has become uncomfortably intense. Those in the health and medical industries, food retailers and delivery services are all being pushed to the limit by increased need and demand. Many coffee shops, such as Pret, are offering discounts and freebies for NHS workers. Other companies have taken steps to change their strategic focus in the fight against Covid-19. LVMH (which owns the Louis Vuitton brand) and Brewdog have both transferred factory resource towards manufacturing hand sanitiser, and food-to-go chain LEON has announced it will reconfigure it’s cafes into food shops to help prevent shortages.

Care and share.

If a global pandemic isn’t enough to trigger a dip in mental health, weeks spent at home in self-isolation will do the trick. In an effort to keep people pro-active and positive, many museums and art galleries are offering virtual tours, while meditation app Headspace have added to their free catalogue of guided mindfulness exercises. Encourage employees to make the most of this time and to look after their mental well-being. This may be a good time to encourage personal development work, as many professional training sites such as LinkedIn or Future Learn are offering free webinars across plenty of subjects.   

Build the future.

A common message from all involved is that this will be a long journey and that there will be lasting impacts. The private sector is key to understanding more about Covid-19 and how we can battle it. Johnson & Johnson have teamed up with the US Department of Health to accelerate the development of a new potential vaccine, while designer Dolce & Gabbana have made a significant donation to Humanitas University coronavirus research fund. These recent demonstrations of corporate collaboration and resilience provide much-needed hope for the future.