As the world continues to be gripped by the developing COVID-19 crisis, everyone from governments to NGOs and community organizations to individuals are scrambling to fight back in any way they can. Scenes reminiscent of wartime: sweeping economic state intervention, country-wide lockdowns and curfews, supermarket rationing and overwhelmed healthcare systems, have become the new norm.
When fighting an enemy so indiscriminate, so far-reaching, our response must be fast, globally cooperative, highly communicative and agile. Luckily, there is already a vast group of organizations that can fill these shoes with ease: for-profit brands. There has already been wide-spread coverage of companies stepping up to the plate and focusing their considerable resources to support healthcare professionals across the globe. From luxury fashion houses manufacturing face masks to distillers turning whisky into hand sanitizer, the private-sector’s potential for good has been laid bare for all to see.
But above all else, this crisis has revealed just how fragile our economic and social systems are. Job losses, food shortages, healthcare deficits and financial struggles are among the many knock-on effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Here too, brands have a social responsibility to lead with purpose and an opportunity to gain the respect and admiration of their customers.
What is your brand doing in the fight against coronavirus?
Read on for inspiration from 8 examples of brands going above and beyond.
MGM Resorts International
Global hospitality and entertainment giant MGM Resorts International have taken considerable measures to protect both their employees and vulnerable communities across the US. Having already pledged $1 million to its employee emergency grant fund, MGM raised a further $10 million to support any of their employees affected by the global crisis.
MGM have also been quick to support vulnerable communities by donating a huge 454,000 meals (and counting) to a network of food banks across the country.
As well as a household name in coffee, Starbucks is also known to be a forward thinking company when it comes to employee benefits and support. It should come as no surprise then that the company has acknowledged the potential damage of the crisis on mental health among its workforce.
Starbucks has expanded existing mental health benefits to give all employees (AKA “partners”) and eligible family members access to 20 free in-person or video sessions every year with mental health therapists and coaches.
Internet and Phone Providers
When international crises arise in the 21st century, the systems that support our interconnectivity are crucial. That’s why dozens of regional and national internet and phone providers across the United States have signed a pledge with the FCC to support consumers.
The pledge, signed by providers including Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Google, T-Mobile and Sprint, commits these companies to guarantee supply to customers affected by the coronavirus for 60 days and to waive all related late fees.
Just like the vast majority of the hospitality and entertainment sector, Disney has closed its parks and cruises to stem the spread of COVID-19, leaving more than 170,000 employees unable to work. Fortunately, Disney has promised to continue covering the employees wages during the closure, providing some much needed security.
The entertainment giant has also guaranteed refunds to those who are unable to use their bookings due to the coronavirus.
As a large multinational food company, Danone makes a vital contribution to supply chains across the world, meaning many of its employees must continue to work on-site. Danone has acknowledged this by giving bonuses to all affected employees.
The French food corporation has also guaranteed the contracts and income of more than 100,000 employees until June 30th and confirmed that they will receive full COVID-19 health coverage.
In one of the most concerning developments of the crisis so far, consumers all over the world have rushed to supermarkets, panic-buying food and hygiene products to wait out the storm. This has placed serious strain on supply chains and has shown supermarket employees for what they are: essential workers.
German budget supermarket chain Aldi has not only hired thousands of new staff to cope with increased demand, but has given every store employee a 10% bonus for their hard work.
Swiss food and drink conglomerate Nestlé have a staggering workforce of more than 352,000 worldwide, many of whom work in essential parts of the global supply chain. Nestlé have met this challenge head on by paying frontline employees an additional 12% for at least 12 weeks.
Nestlé have also guaranteed 12 weeks of standard wages in the event of a full or partial facility closure and are providing an extra 14 days of time off to employees affected by the virus.
The Bottom Line
The examples we’ve shown here are, for the most part, from large multinational corporations, yet the solutions they have brought forward to protect their staff and support their communities are scalable in both directions. This is what it looks like when for-profit companies stand up for purpose.
We are a little over three months into this pandemic and although the end is not yet in sight, it has become obvious that life will be forever changed. In the new world that emerges there will no longer be any excuse: brands must be a major force for positive change. Business for good is just good business; it’s that simple.
Still lacking inspiration for your brand? We will consult with you for free. No strings attached.
To help businesses nurture purpose-driven communications strategies and unlock innovative ideas for impact, Positive Solutions is offering free consulting during this crisis. Start a meaningful firstname.lastname@example.org today.