The coronavirus pandemic has crippled many organizations across the globe. Thousands of businesses were forced to close, leaving millions of workers jobless amid the crisis. Several companies shifted to digital platforms to continue servicing customers and maintain cash flows.
Meanwhile, some businesses have gone the extra mile in supporting their local economies during these trying times. In fact, around 75% of U.S. corporations ramped up their financial contributions to charities amid the outbreak. This comes as more consumers, employees, and investors urge business leaders to make meaningful contributions to society, especially in times of crisis.
The role of businesses has become even more crucial in post-pandemic recovery. Experts argue that amid trying times, companies must continue to strengthen their CSR initiatives, rather than weaken them. Here are some ways on how organizations can contribute to the greater social good for the long term:
1. Donating to charities and non-profit organizations
The widespread closure of businesses has left millions of workers jobless. In fact, a recent Pew Research survey showed that nearly a quarter of American households have at least one member laid off due to the outbreak. Low-income families have suffered the most, struggling to pay household bills and making ends meet.
As a result, non-profit organizations are now struggling to meet the needs of affected beneficiaries. Fundraising events were canceled, imposing a hurdle in generating enough resources.
With this, several large organizations have ramped up donation efforts to support struggling consumers. In fact, more than half of corporate funders increased their charitable donations and awarded more grants amid the crisis. Tech giants like Amazon and Cisco Systems pledged millions of dollars to causes related to coronavirus relief. Food and retail companies like Kroger and PepsiCo also donated millions worth of financial aid to food banks and distribution efforts during the pandemic.
More companies are expected to expand such initiatives even after the pandemic subsides. Business leaders may seek the help of nonprofit or charity accountants to keep track of financial aids given, making sure that they are reaching the right people.
2. Prioritizing mental wellness among employees
Employees worldwide are feeling the strain of the current health crisis on their mental health. In fact, around 7 in 10 workers globally cited the pandemic as the most stressful time in their careers, triggering overwhelming stress. This hindered workers from functioning well at work, resulting in productivity loss.
The pandemic further highlighted the importance of protecting the well-being of workers in the workplace. Many companies began bolstering their mental health initiatives and introduced employee assistance programs that can help their employees cope with the crisis. Some businesses are providing free online counseling sessions, while others are implementing flexible working and additional paid time-offs for workers.
3. Making education accessible to more students
Governments globally ordered the closure of schools to limit the spread of the virus. Thousands of students are now being homeschooled. However, some students and teachers don’t have the capacity for distance learning. For instance, in the U.S., around 4.4 million families with school-aged children do not own a computer, while 3.7 million households have limited internet access, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the U.K., hundreds of teachers in deprived areas failed to receive laptops after the government slashed support for online learning.
Businesses can help compensate for this lack of resources. For instance, some companies like Audible, Loom, and Adobe Systems are providing their core products and services for free to students and educators amid distance learning. Others have extended free trial periods and reduced subscription rates for their services. These simple initiatives can make education accessible to more students in the years to come.
4. Helping small businesses thrive
Small local shops accounted for the largest portion of business closures during the pandemic. In the U.S. alone, experts predict that around four million small businesses may close by yearend. This could further lead to more job losses, especially among local communities.
To combat this, residents and corporations alike are showing increasing support for small entrepreneurs. More than 75% of consumers plan to continue purchasing from local merchants even after the pandemic subsides. Meanwhile, several large corporations aim to help small businesses recover from the crisis. Several banks offered more flexible loan grants and deferred credit card payments to struggling entrepreneurs. Some tech giants and advertising agencies also waived their fees, as well as provided free services to help startups promote their products online.
These initiatives are likely to continue post-pandemic, as more people begin to realize the importance of small businesses to economic recovery.
The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to disrupt human lives and businesses in the years to come. However, the corporate sector can turn things for the better. Their CSR initiatives can serve as an inspiration for unity, resilience, and making a difference in society.