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Seizing an opportunity to make an impact, these responses become the defining moments that reflect authentic core values.

The COVID19 pandemic continues to spread across North America, each day bringing more difficult news. The pressure is building as concerns rise over our well-being and that of the economy. Critical measures are being taken by the government but often that is not enough. Organizations are stepping up.  Seizing an opportunity to make an impact, these responses become the defining moments that reflect authentic core values.

Here are examples of how some companies are going above and beyond to support their people, their customers, and communities:

Manufacturing Respirators: Ford + 3M + GE Healthcare

Answering the global call for much-needed ventilators, automakers are rapidly altering the production lines in united efforts.  Announced March 24, Ford is working with 3M and GE Healthcare, partnering on manufacturing and engineering expertise to develop Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) at scale. “This is such a critical time for America and the world. It is a time for action and cooperation. By coming together across multiple industries, we can make a real difference for people in need and for those on the front lines of this crisis,” said Executive Chairman Bill Ford. He continued: “At Ford, we feel a deep obligation to step up and contribute in times of need, just as we always have through the 117-year history of our company.

Sheltering Medical Front-Line Workers: Airbnb

As cases of coronavirus continue to rise, so do the demands on health care professionals: long hours, self-isolation and personal risk. Some travel to provide much needed support to affected areas. Vacation home rental powerhouse Airbnb has stepped up, providing free or subsidized housing to offer a form of relief.  Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia stated: "Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help. We've heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders. We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.”

Donating PPE at Scale: Apple

Hospitals across the world have been running dangerously low on supply of adequate protective equipment. Facing dire shortages to equip their staff with gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer and masks, private citizens and organizations are taking action. Apple CEO Tim Cook stated over twitter that the team is “helping to find and purchase masks from our supply chain in coordination with governments around the world.”  He continued: “We’re donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe. To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you.”  Facebook, Salesforce have also announced mask donations to help protect healthcare workers.

Keeping Consumers Connected in Crisis: Communication players Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Google, T-Mobile and Sprint

Despite social distancing, we remain connected. We are a video chatting, web conferencing, live streaming society.  A&T CEO, Randall Stephenson stated: “mobile volumes are up 40 percent,” and “Wi-Fi calling volumes are up 100 percent.” But what impact will all that data consumption have on the customer? Communication players like Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Google, T-Mobile and Sprint all committed to keep customers internet-connected for the next 60 days, even if people cannot afford to pay. Many offer unlimited data or waiving late fees.

Securing Employee Income: Starbucks Co.

On March 21, Starbucks moved to a drive-thru and delivery only model at its more than 9,600 company-owned stores in the US and Canada. A result of these measures being taken by food chains across North America, shift hours significantly reduced. Retail workers remain at risk at losing essential income or even their jobs as demand and sales decrease during the pandemic. Starbucks went on to announce their income security plan. Staff will receive pay for 30 days, whether or not they go to work. “I’m a believer that the human experience is all about overcoming adversity through resilience,” stated Kevin Johnson, CEO, Starbucks. He continued: “The decision made provides our partners [our people] with economic certainty because they are the heartbeat of the company.” The coffee giant is also offering catastrophe pay, mental health and sick pay benefits, and childcare support.

Transforming Internal Policies: Walmart

Current retail staff policies prohibit a leave of absence without confirmation of illness. Understanding that testing for coronavirus is not widely available nor do symptoms appear immediately, unwell employees might risk going to work, jeopardizing the health of coworkers and customers.

Shortly after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus in Kentucky, Walmart announced in an internal memo a new emergency leave policy, allowing employees to opt to stay home and take unpaid leave if they feel unable to work or uncomfortable coming to work.  Walmart employees who contract the virus will receive “up to two weeks of pay.” The memo states: Your health is our priority, and, as we've said before, we want any associate who is not feeling well to stay home. So, we have created a COVID-19 emergency leave policy, which is effective immediately, to ensure you have the support you need.

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