The COVID-19 virus forced companies to be agile and creative in the way they operate their businesses during this uncertain time. Some hunker down and weather the storm, while others take this opportunity to take a moral stand, strengthen their community, and mitigate further risk of this coronavirus.
Here is a running list of the best examples that we have seen of the latter:
“As things continue to evolve rapidly, we have decided to move to limited access and Mobile Order Ahead only model. This means, for our employees and our customers, there will be minimum contact. We’re doing this to financially support our Peetniks and help limit the spread of COVID-19 during this unprecedented time. We understand that this will result in a different Peet’s experience and ask for your patience at this time….”
On top of the excerpt above, Peet’s will also be closing down several stores, while protecting the wages of the employees for at least two weeks. They emphasize a strong community and wanting to limit the impact of the virus while being able to maintain their service to the neighborhoods they support.
This message was also emailed out to all of their followers, and posted at the top of their main website. It is the first thing you see when you search their company, and they did a good job of reaching out to all of their audiences in a very timely and succinct manner.
Delta Air Lines
“As we draw down our operation, I know how painful it is to essentially hit the “pause button” on so many things that are core to what we do for our customers and our mission to connect the world. But what will never stop is the spirit of the Delta people, which is shining through brighter than ever even in this dark moment. I have received hundreds of emails and messages from my Delta colleagues over the past week, and your passion, commitment and confidence in our future is truly inspiring.”
In this memo sent out to employees, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian was candidly honest about the struggles the company was facing. He was transparent about what he and his fellow executives were doing to combat the dwindling traffic and laid out a few key actions that he was taking including his own salary 100% over the next 6-months, along with the entire Board of Directors.
After the NBA season was suspended until further notice, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban vowed almost immediately that he would find a plan that would take care of the Maverick’s hourly-paid employees until this crisis is over.
Cuban encouraged other teams and key figures to do the same, and it seemed to work:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, a Greek basketball player on the Milwaukee Bucks, pledged $100,000 to the staff of the Bucks stadium
- Zion Williamson, just a rookie on the New Orleans Pelicans, committed to paying the salaries of all Smoothie King Center hourly employees for the next 30 days
- The Golden State Warriors announced that the franchise owners, players, and coaches will contribute a combined $1 million to the disaster relief fund for Chase Center employees.
On March 19th, CEO Arne Sorenson posted to twitter an emotional video updating all of the Marriott International Associates on the internal effects of the coronavirus. He shared his well wishes for those impacted directly by the virus before going into the details about how the business is doing.
In light of overall operations dipping 75% from their normal levels, Sorenson has put in place some proactive steps including pausing all new hires, stopped all 2020 initiatives, and completely stopped branding and advertising during this period. In addition, Sorenson has forgone his own salary for the remainder of 2020 while the rest of the executive team takes a 50% cut.
While there isn’t much good news to report at this time, Sorenson was candidly optimistic about the future, while remaining realistic. He didn’t sugarcoat the truth but did not incite any fears for his employees that were not already evident. His emotions showed through the scripted brief, as he became choked up while making his closing remarks. A good address doesn’t always mean delivering the best news, in fact, it is most important to be honest and show goodwill so that the people within your organization know that you will do everything you can to help them when the time comes.
“We are a community of huggers and hand shakers and we want to do our part to keep that warmth around but in as safe a manner as possible… We will keep making the sanitizer as long as it is required and we can get the ingredients.”
Some of the best responses we have seen have come from local brands that genuinely care about their customers that keep them in business. We are seeing this industry-wide in some really unprecedented moments of caring and generosity.
Believed to have started with Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta, Georgia, distilleries around the country have started creating safe hand sanitizer using the facilities and supplies they already had on hand. Moonrise stood out in particular because of its well-crafted reasoning and response. Not only are they positively impacting their community, but they are also emboldening their core values.
They are giving the sanitizer out for free to locals in the community while expecting no reimbursement other than donations. Like it says in the quote above, they will keep this going as long as necessary or as long as they are able to.
“With nearly one billion people in lockdown across the world because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that we lend a hand and provide them with an enjoyable way to pass the time”
We’ve seen genuine and timely responses from a multitude of organizations, but Pornhub has become known for their creativity when it comes to responding to crises even outside of its normal scope. Hoping to contribute to “flattening the curve” of the coronavirus as it spreads, Pornhub has made several contributions to different groups affected by COVID-19.
Firstly, they are offering Pornhub Premium for free for 30 days to encourage people to spend more time at home. They have also changed their pricing model for the month of April to contribute 100% of video sales to the models that are featured in order to help those financially impacted. Finally, the company is donating $25,000 to the Sex Workers Outreach Project, and 15,000 masks to Local 2507 of New York City. This isn’t the first time their generosity has extended beyond the adult entertainment industry, and it likely won’t be the last as they continue to impress the public.
“As we navigate through these uncharted waters, we’re asking much of you and, as always, you are rising to the challenge and we appreciate your support. Your dedication and resilience during this difficult time are truly inspiring, and it gives me renewed confidence that we will come through this crisis even stronger than before, as we have so many times in our company’s history.” – Bob Chapek
Disney has joined the list of companies whose leaders are implementing sizable pay cuts. Bob Iger, who recently stepped down as CEO to his new role as an executive chairman, opted out of his salary for the rest of 2020. Bob Chapek, his successor, is cutting 50% of his own salary. There has also been a move to reduce all VP-level salaries by 20%, 25% for Senior VPs, and 30% for executive VPs.
While these cuts are not always in good faith, and instead preempt other financial troubles for the organization, it does show a level of taking responsibility for the issues at hand. Whether or not a crisis is within your control, you still have to face the consequences of your level of preparation. This particular move is not required for all senior staff and instead leaves it to those individuals to forgo that portion of their salary for the right reasons. Disney hints at unexpected economic troubles as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and it will be interesting to see how their response evolves as the year goes on.
We’ve begun to see several companies use their manufacturing capabilities to produce medical devices and supplies for areas in need. This rugged apparel company has joined the effort at a massive scale, announcing plans to begin producing over 50,000 medical gowns and 2.5 million masks as early as April 20.
The production is all occurring domestically, with the workforce made up of employees that have volunteered to make this feat possible. Carhartt Inc. currently pays all employees their normal wage despite the shutdown, so all efforts to produce these supplies comes from those with no other incentive other than to help front-line medical workers. The company’s CEO says that answering the call during times of need has always been a part of Carhartt’s history.
A lot of organizations will vocalize their intent to have a positive impact on the world around them. Seeing one rise to the occasion without direct request, especially on such a scale, is sure to be remembered long after this crisis is through.