The pandemic has been tough for most businesses, including global corporations worth billions of dollars. When countries locked down, businesses were among the hardest hit. Around the world, restaurants and retail stores had to close, too, to support the effort to slow down the spread of the virus and save lives. As a result, many companies have also reported a loss of revenue for the first time in a long time in 2020. According to Bloomberg, 43 out of 345 companies with a market valuation of above $25 billion reported cumulative losses in 2020.
Yet, the threat of an economic recession did not prevent businesses of all sizes from helping out during the pandemic. Many ignored the threat of an economic recession to give back to their respective communities. They handed out big checks to charities and offered to use their facilities and resources to help where they are needed.
Coca-Cola Goes Dark
In 2020, Coca-Cola went off the air. The company paused marketing campaigns and redirected its advertising budget toward the response against COVID-19. Coca-Cola Philippines was first to announce that it will spend PHP 150 million (US$ 3 million) toward helping medical front liners and vulnerable communities during the pandemic. The fund was spent on procurement and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers across the country. The company also provided food packs and beverages to underprivileged communities in partnership with non-government charitable organizations Caritas and Rise Against Hunger.
Soon after the Philippine announcement, many other markets followed suit. By April 2020, Coca-Cola spent US$100 million to support relief operations against COVID-19 worldwide.
In addition, Coca-Cola bottlers around the world also used their facilities and resources toward providing the various needs of their respective communities. In Japan and Swaziland, for example, manufacturing facilities were used to produce hand sanitizers, an important tool to fight infections, for hospitals and nursing homes. In North America, Coca-Cola donated plastic sheeting to non-profit Market Labs to create face shields for medical workers.
Coca-Cola Co. also made the decision earlier this year to not run ads during the broadcast of the Super Bowl LV.
Google Enables Learning
The pandemic also created new challenges for populations. Governments restricted movements and closed down places where infections can happen, and that includes schools.
Children around the world had to stop going to school and, instead, have their classes at home. Lessons were administered through laptop and tablet screens. While, to some households, the transition was easy, it only further exacerbated the gap between the rich and the poor. Families that were not well off did not have the resources to allow their children to continue learning through the pandemic.
Google, as a response, gave away thousands of Chromebooks to underprivileged students in California. It also promised at least three months’-worth of free WiFi to about a hundred thousand households in rural America
The company also announced that Googlers, or those who work at Google, have donated over a million dollars that will go toward non-profit organizations that are working to provide medical supplies to hospitals, food and lodging for medical workers, and long-term recovery efforts.
UPS Deliver Critical Supplies
UPS pledged to use its capabilities as a logistics company to bridge distances despite border closures. It has partnered with governments, non-government organizations, and healthcare and pharmaceutical providers to move essential goods and equipment.
In the past year, UPS, in participation with the FEMA Project Airbridge, transported critical cargo that contained test kits, PPE, and other supplies from sources around the world to the U.S. to address shortages. The company also partnered with 3M to ship masks to the U.S. for frontline workers to use in the fight against COVID-19. Moreover, UPS delivered hundreds of drums of hand sanitizers across the country to distribute to healthcare workers and first responders.
Microsoft Used Tech to Fight COVID-19
Microsoft, as a tech company, responded to COVID-19 by using its platforms and building apps to better understand the illness and help slow its spread across communities.
One of the first acts of the company is to build a system that will collect data about hospitalizations and disease incidence in its home state of Washington, one of the first to see a COVID-19 surge. The aim was to create an accurate picture of the situation and use data to inform decisions.
It also worked with Swedish Health Services to build an app that will provide real-time updates and keep track of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. Using data, the company, with the help of epidemiologists, modeled disease scenarios and analyze the spread of COVID-19.
Microsoft also made monetary donations to non-profit and community organizations.
The past year has been tough. It saw so much loss. However, it also saw people from all walks of life stand up and help one another.