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Corporate Social Responsibility is an idea that has grown in importance in the past few years. Organizations acknowledge that in order to boost their reputation they must show commitment to CSR activities. It has also become a way to capture the millennial generation that is ever so conscious of the society. However, due to the unprecedented reality of the coronavirus pandemic, companies have had to rethink their strategies quite rapidly. 

While some companies have chosen to retract their CSR initiatives in order to keep their business afloat, others have taken this as an opportunity to transfer the principles of CSR to benefit consumers, employees, and vulnerable communities.

In this article, we will delve into the need to prioritize the workforce during these times when they’re most vulnerable and some companies that are actively supporting communities during these uncertain times.

Companies actively practicing CSR during COVID-19

With all that is going on throughout the fight against COVID-19, there is one thing that stands true. Whilst companies may be making the choice between capitalism, compassion, or compassionate capitalism, people are paying attention! The need for companies to benefit people and the planet has never been greater. 

Image Credits – Matthew Smart

Many companies have taken the initiative to positively impact the crisis through donations, technology and educating the general public about the virus.

The Indian multinational Tata Motors has initiated a three-way strategy entitled “E3 Directives”. The company is “Equipping” and supporting the manufacture of home-made certified masks and sanitizers to be distributed to public facilities and personnel along with medical kits and protective gear to circumvent the spread of COVID-19. They are providing “Essential” supplies such as food and other grocery items across different communities, from the helpless communities to temporary workers, drivers and security staff. And last but certainly not least, Tata Motors is doing as best as they can to “Educate’ and spread awareness about the coronavirus and the actions to take to prevent the spread through different information distribution channels.

Another company that has been recognized for its diligent CSR practice is Teleperformance. The company has shared some of its resources with the medical team of SAMU in Tunisia aiding them by availing professional medical expertise and establishing expert interactions onsite addressing patient requests. The company has also been cooperating with the non-profit organization Feed the Children in the US to ensure communities aren’t deprived of food supplies during these dire times.

Cisco committed $225 million worth of resources focusing on education, healthcare, government response, and technology to several COVID-19 efforts. It has encouraged its employees to be charitable by initiating an employee matching campaign of up $4 million in total giving. The company is working alongside the Silicon Valley Community Foundation Destination: Home, Second Harvest, and several tech company leaders. Cisco has also provided access to their integral technologies with free Webex and Security offers.

Google has partnered with the U.S. government to develop a website strictly for educating people on COVID-19, sharing the best preventative practices as well as the local resources available nationwide. Information on the coronavirus is continually being displayed on Google products such as the Search Engine, Maps, and YouTube. Google is making use of artificial intelligence technology Duplex to contact businesses to confirm their updated opening hours, and if schools or local businesses are temporarily closed. 

Apple’s COVID-19 response has echoed commitment of $15 million dollars in donations helping those infected and to circumvent grave economic and communal impacts caused by the pandemic. Additionally, the company has incorporated mobile working arrangements and ensured that all their hourly workers will continue to be paid their usual earnings.

Seeing such significant market players in Tech and e-commerce being proactive in the fight against the coronavirus surely brings a glimmer of hope. While these and other organizations may take a hit from the economic downturn, it is comforting to see them act out of compassion and leadership realizing that this fight can only be won in unity. 

Prioritizing Human Capital during COVID-19

Image Credits – Alex Kotliarskyi

Amidst this global pandemic, employers across all industries are finding it essential to prioritize the health and safety of employees. Although there may not be a generic solution for all organizations, creating safe workplace precautions synonymous with wearing face masks and covers in public or deliberate distancing, and offering as much flexibility as possible demonstrates responsibility and a primary concern for employees. 

The tourism industry, for instance, is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus. The UNWTO estimated a decline of between 20-30% in global international tourist arrivals, amounting to a loss of US$30 to 50 billion dollars in international tourism receipts. Travel and hospitality companies have resorted to downsizing and even closing down. This affects SMEs, hourly or self-employed workers in informal environments. The fear of the unknown for such individuals and lack of clarity regarding their support from governments only catalyzes panic.

The sudden shift in today’s norm should not leave employees having to choose between work and home responsibilities. Instead, the company orientations should shift to take care, first, of the staff who have made the commitment to carry out the company’s mission and vision. Company leadership must cater to employees’ mental and physical health and ensure that they remain sane during these uncertain times. 

The company Ally reacted to this epidemic by displaying kindness and generosity to their employees. It ensured that those who identified as high-risk individuals were sent home with pay along with those who had serious medical conditions. Among the employee benefits were paid leave for any employee diagnosed with COVID-19, access to free mental health professionals, free financial planning support, and 100% coverage for virtual doctor visits and online health care services.

Amazon has also taken steps to alleviate employee panic. The company created 100,000 full and part-time hires to support their operations and the surge in demand for Amazon services during the pandemic. The company acknowledged their workforces’ unwavering commitment and has added $2 per hour on top of the current $15/hour. Amazon as well as taking great precautionary measures to ensure health and safety to its workers. 

Coronavirus has really put the employer to task and challenged their loyalty to workers and communities alike. The little things such as dropping a message of encouragement and expressing appreciation for each team member will certainly go a long way. It’s important to encourage employees to be active, workout, and to stay in contact with loved ones. Insightful companies will genuinely do good regardless of the outcome post-COVID-19. 

“Now is a time for leaders to think about what type of leader they need to be for all of their workers, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized.” – Workplace Culture and Human Capital Strategist, Daisy Auger-Dominguez. 

Leadership in the coronavirus crisis

Leadership has yet to undergo a more prominent test of commitment to their communities and workforce in this new decade. What remains unerring even during this gloomy period is the fact that the decisions companies are making regarding their employees and strategies could substantially affect their image for the next foreseeable future post-epidemic. 

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