We’re in deeply uncertain times, to put it mildly.
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, so does its sphere of destruction, leaving a loss of life and a toppling of worldwide economies in its wake. But for every basic understanding of how our lives work that this pandemic has challenged, it’s also challenged ideas about what we owe one another and the responsibility we have to collectively take care of each other. Across the world, people are banding together to an extent that may not have felt possible just months ago, and the crisis is being met with kindness in ways both big and small.
Among these acts? The way some companies, on a macro-level, have stepped up and shown up, not only to support their workers but to help society at large. And as a blueprint for what corporate good and people-first leadership can look like long after this crisis has passed, it’s encouraging to consider.
Here are 20 inspiring ways companies are choosing to do their part in the middle of a pandemic.
1. Home Depot has committed to continue paying workers who are forced to self-quarantine.
The company is also giving full-time hourly employees an additional 80 hours of paid sick or personal time, which can be used for things like caring for children during school closures. Part-time hourly employees are receiving an additional 40 of these hours, too.
2. Target is setting aside dedicated shopping hours for vulnerable individuals.
Target’s more than 1,800 stores nationwide are preserving an hour each week for the elderly and those with underlying health concerns to shop and stock up on essential items.
"Families are counting on Target for critical supplies during this challenging time, and we'll continue to do all that we can to keep our stores open," Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. "We'll also maintain limits on select products and would ask guests to purchase only what they need so there's enough supply to accommodate this increased demand."
3. Mindbody is making mindfulness accessible and helping small businesses and studios at the same time.
Searching “virtual” in your area on the Mindbody App or on Mindbody.io pulls up community studios near you offering online yoga and mindfulness classes. Not only are these types of classes crucial for preserving your physical and mental health at this time; they’re also directing money back to your local businesses. Additionally, Mindbody is facilitating virtual meetups for the owners of wellness businesses who need support and resources during this time.
4. 3M is supporting health care workers and the sick in life-saving ways.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, 3M has dedicated itself to increasing the production of illness-mitigating and life-saving products, including doubling its global output of N95 respirators and, in collaboration with Ford, producing more air purifying respirators (PAPRs). The company is working with governments, medical officials and distributors across the world to get supplies where they’re needed the most as quickly possible, and it's doing so in a way that still protects the health of its own workers through a new “paid pandemic leave” policy.
5. Salesforce is drawing on its resources to make remote work easier.
The tech company quickly pivoted to digitize processes and ensure workers had access to the resources they needed to be efficient remotely, using tools like Quip to make virtual collaboration easier. And for workers who don’t have the option to continue working remotely, Salesforce has promised continued compensation for its hourly and gig workers. Additionally, the company’s CEO, Marc Benioff, announced that Salesforce is in the process of delivering 5 million masks to local hospitals.
6. Microsoft set an example early on — and has since expanded its support of working parents in a pretty remarkable way.
The company was among the first to send its workforce home and to announce it would continue paying hourly service workers throughout the crisis, regardless of whether they were able to work. Since then, Microsoft has recognized the number of challenges its working parents are facing and responded by expanding its paid parental leave policy for all full-time employees. Regardless of whether an employee just had a baby, parents at Microsoft can now take up to three months of fully paid leave, a godsend for those with kids at home who have been struggling to juggle homeschooling and child care responsibilities while working remotely.
7. Facebook has already donated hundreds of thousands of masks.
Facebook, which had amassed a stockpile of 720,000 masks during the time of California’s wildfires, donated them all to health care workers. And the company isn’t stopping there; Mark Zuckerberg added he’s currently “working on sourcing millions more to donate.”
8. RingCentral is donating its services to teachers, health care workers and more.
Educators, health providers and non-profit organizations are among those who can now use RingCentral’s technology free of charge, making everything from video conferencing and team messaging to business phones and SMS tools accessible to these high-impact workers.
9. Bank of America is pouring resources into ed-tech.
As millions of K-12 students find themselves out of school, Bank of America is using its partnership with Khan Academy, an education nonprofit, to scale online learning programs and free educational resources, including webinars that help parents and teachers navigate the transition to digital. The bank’s support of Khan Academy is one part of a recently announced $100 million commitment by the bank to support local communities by not only increasing access to learning as a result of school closures, but also increasing medical response capacity, addressing food insecurity, and providing support to the world’s most vulnerable populations.
10. Frontier Communications is protecting connectivity.
By providing unlimited data usage and working to expand its broadband service, the telecommunications company is helping individuals stay connected and informed at a time when the need for reliable internet access has never been greater.
11. HubSpot is helping small businesses move online.
For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, whether they can effectively move their businesses online during this crisis will make or break them. That’s why HubSpot is waiving fees for many of its virtual tools, reducing package prices for small businesses and facilitating virtual meetups for additional resources and support.
12. IBM built a supercomputer that’s fighting the virus.
The use of Summit, an IBM-built supercomputer, was donated to researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in order to discover new ways of fighting the coronavirus. In just two days, the supercomputer was able to identify 77 small-molecule drug potential compounds to fight COVID-19 — a task that, using traditional tech tools, would have taken the researchers years.
13. Early into the outbreak, Johnson & Johnson mobilized in order to help develop a possible vaccine.
Pooling the resources of its Janssen Pharmaceuticals Companies, Johnson & Johnson was able to leverage the company’s AdVac and PER.C6 technologies to quickly upscale the production of preventative vaccine candidates for COVID-19. In the face of public health crises, the company has a solid track record; its Ebola vaccine was deployed for use in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and the company has developed vaccine candidates for Zika, RSV and HIV vaccines, as well. Additionally, the company has significantly contributed to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation and is behind the donation of millions of medical masks, bottles of alcohol and protective goggles to health care workers.
14. Postmates created a health care fund for couriers.
The past few weeks have clearly shown just how much we rely on delivery workers. To that end, Postmates set up a new Postmates Fleet Relief Fund to cover the cost for its couriers to receive medical check-ups. Additionally, the food delivery company is waiving restaurant commission fees for new merchants, so that small businesses forced to switch to delivery models at this time have a shot at staying open.
15. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was quick to offer telemedicine options for patients.
In order to prevent the risk of exposure for patients and workers, MSKCC unrolled televist options for its healthcare providers. The hospital has also created online formats for many of its education and support groups, including groups for cancer survivors, caregivers and those dealing with grief.
16. PwC is prioritizing people over profits.
At PwC, the emphasis is on prioritizing "people over profits," as U.S. Chair Tim Ryan wrote on LinkedIn. For starters, that means doing everything possible to protect PwC's own workers and their job security. "As a leader, I find comfort in knowing that the right thing to do and the most economically sound thing to do are one and the same in this case — and that is to keep our people at work," Ryan wrote. "Our leadership team and our Board agree that it is better to err on the side of keeping our people at work rather than trying to achieve short-term targets. Our feeling is that if this is going to be a hard year for people, it shouldn’t be a good year for profits."
Beyond the scope of its own workforce, PwC is putting people first across society. The firm's PwC Charitable Foundation, has already donated $2.85 million in coronavirus-related grants, including a $350,000 grant to Project HOPE to help purchase and deliver protective equipment to health workers in China at the outbreak's onset. Separately, PwC has donated $250K to Feeding America and First Responders Children's Foundation. Through these donations, 200 food banks across the U.S. are able to protect more children, seniors and out-of-work individuals from food insecurity, and N95 masks and ventilators are being supplied to healthcare workers across all 50 states.
17. Intel is donating one million pieces of protective equipment to health care workers.
As hospitals around the country contend with shortages of medical masks, eyewear and gloves, Intel is seeking to address that by donating one million protective items to U.S. health care workers. In addition, the Intel Foundation has committed $6 million in aid to support coronavirus relief efforts. The donations are being distributed across community foundations and organizations that are focused on food security, shelter and medical equipment, and the money is also being used to support small businesses.
18. Cisco committed a whopping $225 million to fighting the virus.
Including $8 million in cash and $210 in products, Cisco's contributions will be distributed to groups like the United Nations Foundation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and the World Health Organization's various relief efforts. Separately, the company, in collaboration with other organizations, is posed to announce a multi-million dollar financial assistance program for at-risk individuals.
“Cisco must, and will, do even more to help others respond to this global pandemic,” said Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins.
19. Apple is protecting its hourly and retail workers by providing unlimited sick leave.
For any Apple retail worker who believes they're experiencing coronavirus symptoms, the company is offering them unlimited sick leave — no doctor's note required. That means they're able to take off the time they need without fear of using up all their sick days or, if their symptoms are mild, being forced to risk exposing others by going to the doctor. Additionally, CEO Tim Cook said the company would donate 10 million protective masks to healthcare workers.
20. Rollins, Inc. is helping essential businesses stay clean and safe with a powerful new disinfectant.
Deemed an essential business itself under the Department of Homeland Security's guidelines, Rollins is enabling other essential businesses to serve their customers safely. With concerns about germ transmission at an all-time high, Rollins announced a new service being offered by one of its subsidiaries that will kill 100 percent of bacteria and viruses on hard, non-porous surfaces.
"We have been using this product for years to sanitize commercial facilities after pest cleanouts," Judy Black, Vice President of Quality Assurance and Technical Services at Rollins, said. "Now we are pleased that it can serve a broader public health purpose as well."
Additionally, the company has expanded its paid sick leave for all full- and part-time employees.