It’s happening all over the country and the world. Socially responsible companies are jumping in to fill a void and help their communities. Distilleries and breweries are making and distributing hand sanitizer, sometimes at no cost. Hotels are donating rooms to medical personnel and the homeless. Restaurants are bringing food to food banks.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) isn’t a new idea. Many businesses see CSR as an important recruitment tool, especially for millennial workers. CSR is also seen as a marker of how well a brand interacts with stakeholders and communities. Companies like TOMS and Bombas Socks, have a stated social mission as part of their business model. But, many other companies also make social responsibility part of their brand identity because supporting the common social good, is both the right thing to do and good for business. Strong and consistent CSR policies are key to brands who want to attract customers interested in causes such as ethical sourcing, fair working conditions, or reducing carbon footprints.
During the current Covid-19 crisis, socially-minded organizations are being asked to rise to the occasion in new ways. Several large, and well-known companies have made headlines with their efforts. The often-maligned Amazon announced a $5 million relief fund for small businesses near their headquarters. Celebrity designer Christian Sirano and Dov Charney (formerly of American Apparel) both announced early on that they were pivoting to creating masks and personal protective gear (PPE) for medical workers. Google pledged $1 million to organizations in Mountain View, California. Billionaire Mark Cuban is reimbursing employees for lunch and coffee purchased from local restaurants. Subaru has partnered with Feeding America to help provide 50 million meals nationwide. The Company Store donated supplies such as towels, bed linens, and slippers to hospital staff rooms, and pillows and bed linens to shelters.
Smaller, local companies, a traditional partner of community-based nonprofits, are also rising to the occasion. In Forest Park, Illinois, Urban Pioneer Group, a ritzy event space with a commercial kitchen, has almost transformed itself, almost overnight, into Meals 2 Medics — a sustainable community-based organization dedicated to providing nutrient-dense meals and snacks to frontline medical staff. The company uses donations to employee local chefs who would otherwise be out of work. Meals for hospital workers are packaged under glimmering chandeliers.
In regular times, Rogue Fitness of Columbus, Ohio makes and sells fitness gear and equipment. Today, they’re not only producing PPE, they’re also feeding their employees, increasing employee pay, matching customers’ donations to a local nonprofit, and sponsoring gym owners so that they can provide virtual coaching to clients.
It’s still unclear what the landscape will look like after the threat from Covid-19 subsides. But, it’s clear that in order to get the work done, we all have to continue being a part of that landscape. If you’d like to have a conversation about your changing landscape, please fill out our contact form to request a free one-hour meeting with one of our consultants.