The pandemic swept across the globe.
A large number of people lost their jobs. People, who remained employed, faced pay cuts. The overall industrial productions drowned massively and economies suffered. This directly affected the lifestyles of citizens. Essential areas like healthcare, education and food consumption got affected. The concerned governments tried to deal with the uncertain situation. Were these adequate? It demands critical analysis. Corporates had to pitch in for multiple social projects. Both the governments and the corporates came together to supply the vulnerable and the marginalised basic food and healthcare facilities.
In India, in 2014, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was introduced officially. Still, corporates in other countries are operating without any legal binding of CSR. But it is common practice for corporates to participate in social welfare projects.
The corporates retained close focus on environmental, finance, human rights, digital innovation, mental wellness and physical health and education related projects in their Covid-19 relief efforts. Many manufacturing companies turned their factories to make ventilators, PPE, hand sanitiser etc. and donated the products to the underprivileged section of the society.
Corporates also stepped up to support badly-hit SMEs. Amazon has been one of the most recognised names in that list. They announced $5 million relief fund for these small businesses. Additionally, Google assured $1 million to these organisations. Alibaba, CITI, Johnson & Johnson, Vodafone, Nestle, Daimler AG and Microsoft are few names that made huge contributions in last year for dwarfing the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) donated PPE to clinic employees to the health ministry. The company and the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) set up a laboratory for molecular virology within 18 days and also optimised the processes to increase test capacities. Volkswagen handed protective equipment for healthcare workers includes 50,000 N95 masks, 65,000 disposable gowns, two million disposable gloves and 1,000 visors. The company earlier informed that they provided 200 digital infrared thermometers and 190 devices for monitoring oxygen content in blood and pulse of the Covid-19 patients.
PwC helped to set up and administer government schemes to support businesses and individuals who were impacted by the pandemic. Along with financial donations to charities, the company also donated medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and medical centres. The company encouraged their staff members who have medical training to volunteer in their local healthcare systems to combat the pandemic.
Major international oil company, Shell has also supported the battle against Covid-19. They donated $10 million to COVAX. Significantly, the COVAX initiative is co-led by Gavi - the Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to make vaccines more widely available in lower and middle income countries. Shell spent around $46 million on Covid-19 contributions as voluntary initiatives.
BP Oil donated $2 million to the WHO’s ‘Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund’. This fund supports medical professionals and patients worldwide by providing critical aid and supplies. The fund was created by the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation (SPF).
Bristol Myers Squibb, a major pharma company, has done fundraising for partner charities. All of their donations went to St. Francis Hospice (hospitality and healthcare organisation) and Jigsaw Dublin 15 (mental health service organisation).
Dun & Bradstreet have launched a free ‘Covid-19 Business Impact Research Platform’ for helping governments to identify where to prioritise recovery efforts and to aid businesses. The company also donated numerous PPE kits and cleaning supplies to medical centres and helped the food banks locally.
Accenture arranged virtual volunteer work with Third Age. It is an organisation that provides older people with vital services like confidential listening lines. This initiative directly helps people who have lost their jobs to set up their own businesses and will strengthen their economic backbone.
IT service giant Cognizant has recently announced that they will invest $250 million in CSR fund for upcoming five years. Cognizant “Aims to create conditions for people to thrive by expanding access to education, healthcare and technology” - that will improve the overall economic ecosystem in long term.
The pandemic left a significant impact on the mining and manufacturing industries. The World Economic Forum (WEF) informed that “More than one third of the countries where the coronavirus is spreading are resource-dependent nations, generating more than 20% of their export revenues from minerals, metals or hydrocarbons.” Lockdowns impacted them massively. International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) that comprises a group of 27 mining and metals companies, have provided more than $315 million to Covid-19 relief funds and individual company donations. Anglo American is one of the major contributors to this effort around the globe including Africa, Australia and the North and South American countries.
Additionally, the WEF has launched the Great Reset initiative for a sustainable and resilient future. In that initiative, Bernard Looney, CEO, BP Oil (WEF’s Strategic Partner) reminded that tackling climate change is an essential imperative. During and post-pandemic, climate change has emerged as a major look out for corporates that will hopefully be remembered by the stakeholders in future. Healthcare and education sectors remained as the two essential areas of corporate CSR interest.