Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.


The best of solutions journalism in the sustainability space, published monthly.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Leon Kaye headshot

As COVID-19 Pushes More Into Poverty, ‘Day of Solidarity’ Presses for Bolder Action

On May 22, over 400 NGOs are calling for a “Day of Solidarity” to urge citizens to push leaders to take bolder action against COVID-19.
By Leon Kaye

Here’s a day companies could grant their employees a few hours of no-strings-attached paid leave. Be sure to calendar this Friday, May 22: More than 400 NGOs are calling for a Day of Solidarity to highlight bolder community action for those who have been overlooked as the COVID-19 crisis takes its toll. There won’t be local rallies to attend, but there’s plenty of digital action on the agenda.

Organizations mobilizing for this coming Friday include Action for Sustainable Development, Global Citizen, Oxfam and Save the Children.

While the narrative we hear from government officials is often, “the virus doesn’t discriminate,” the evidence suggests the elderly, the working poor, those with underlying health problems, people of color, and women and girls are among the groups at highest risk from suffering from the novel coronavirus – whether they suffer the social and economic impacts or, in the worst case, death.  

The long-term effects will be with society for years, as media reports have suggested half a billion people could fall into poverty due to this crisis.

To that end, the NGOs backing Friday’s Day of Solidarity said in a public statement: “We are strongly committed to ensuring that civil society organizations and volunteers play a critical role in supporting community action and ensuring that those who are most often marginalized are not left behind through this challenging time… but we expect world leaders to ensure key measures are addressed to build a fairer future.”

In the corporate world, while there are some business leaders who have stepped it up during this pandemic, so far,  the global business community has been better at communicating a response to this crisis than actually executing action to address it.

True, there have been many successful one-off responses to the pandemic, but critics can point to three problems as to why not everyone is agrees the overall corporate response has been effective. The mass layoffs and furloughs say enough, and many companies have either been slow to enact or pushed back against additional pay and protections for essential workers. Finally, evidence suggests that while many working-class and middle-class people are facing financial ruin, the wealthiest at a macro level have become richer during this crisis.

Hence these NGOs are calling on the public to help them take on the COVID-19 crisis. Whether people submit their own ideas, spread the word via social media, write to leaders or sign an online statement, these organizations are calling for a full slate of actions. They include building a fair recovery that ensures universal access to healthcare; eliminating inequality; securing human rights; rebuilding economies; addressing threats to biodiversity and tackling climate change.

This same group also has a 12-point plan that includes efforts it wants to see the United Nations, governments and donor agencies carry forward during this crisis.

One way in which companies could help with this initiative is to give employees some leeway this Friday so they can put their digital might into pushing for more global action to ensure government, the private sector and civil society unite to take on this pandemic. As we’ve seen here in the U.S., a loosely centralize effort has resulted in over 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 and 90,000 deaths. The entire world can do better, and a huge digital effort this Friday could certainly help to raise awareness and push people to expect more from their leaders.

Image credit: Ashok Adepal/Pexels

Leon Kaye headshot

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.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye