Full disclosure: This is hardly an all-inclusive list, but with all the overwhelming news bombarding us daily, we wanted to take a few moments to remind readers how we have seen strong leadership from companies worldwide. Tune in regularly, especially during our weekly Brands Taking Stands coverage, as we update our readers on the global business response to this pandemic.
Yes, we know the airlines are under relentless criticism for the stock buybacks during recent years, but one analyst pointed out that, in reality, only one of these companies carried this approach to an extreme. So now, let’s give credit where it’s due.
On Wednesday, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced JetBlue would fly incoming medical volunteers willing to work in New York City to help fight this pandemic. Meanwhile, global carriers including Austrian Airlines, LATAM and Lufthansa are foregoing flying empty planes and instead are filling empty seats with much needed medical cargo.
3p hasn’t been shy about urging companies to do more to protect their frontline workers, and now investors are chiming in. This week, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of 195 institutional investors backed by $4.7 trillion in collective assets under management, urged companies to be mindful of how this pandemic and resulting humanitarian and economic crises will burden citizens worldwide.
In particular, the ICCR is urging the business community to provide paid sick leave, focus on employee health and safety, and take every measure possible to retain employees. “In the face of this global humanitarian crisis, we all benefit by coming together,” says the ICCR.
Signatories include BMO, Cornerstone Capital Group and Trillium.
The most frightening aspect of the pandemic is the fact local healthcare systems around the world do not have enough ventilators to assist the patients who have succumbed the fastest to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
On that point, it’s inspiring to see automakers including General Motors and Ford retool their operations to make ventilators. Medtronic and Tesla have said they’ll join forces to manufacture ventilators at a Buffalo, New York, facility. And James Dyson, the billionaire developer of air dryers and vacuum cleaners, told CNN he came up with a new design for this much-needed lifesaver in 10 days after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put in an urgent call.
By now, you’ve memorized your favorite 20-second song to hum while you wash your hands (Yankee Doodle? Happy Birthday? Mary Had a Little Lamb?). But unfortunately, due in part to panic shopping or the fact that many of us don’t have the space or budget to stock up on items such as hand sanitizer, soap is often our best defense against this virus.
To that end, Unilever announced a $122 million partnership with the United Kingdom government to fund a global campaign that showcases the importance of handwashing. This program will in part serve to raise awareness of hygiene, but it will also provide as many as 20 million cleaning products to the world’s poorest people so they have what they need to stay healthy during this pandemic. This is hardly new territory for the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant. After all, it helps to have a 19th century soap brand, as in Lifebuoy, as a tool to help demonstrate why handwashing now matters more than ever.
This announcement makes us appreciate one of many timeless scenes in the 1982 classic, A Christmas Story, as well.
We’ve seen several beverage and fragrance companies step out and do what they can to divert their resources to the production of hand sanitizer. Add one more to the list: Bacardi, which announced that various factories distilling Grey Goose vodka, Bombay gin, Martini vermouth, Dewar’s scotch and Angel’s Envy bourbon are gearing up to produce alcohol-based sanitizer (see the photo above). In turn, the company will distribute these products to local communities, medical professionals and first responders.
On a lighter note, let’s remember that this sudden change that has forced people work and learn from home has been a huge adjustment for many of us. So cheers to Verizon for adding another welcome distraction with a new series, Pay It Forward Live. Sorry if you missed last night’s Dave Matthews performance (which I played in the background as I typed up this article), but you can see who’s next on the calendar on Verizon’s Twitter feed or on Yahoo Entertainment. This series is part of Verizon’s plan to help out small businesses that have been suffering as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Image credit: Bacardi
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.