As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc, numerous companies have stepped up to assist their employees and customers whose lives have been disrupted by the outbreak.
- Macy's is closing all of its stores to help control the spread of COVID-19 and has announced it will "provide benefits and compensation" to all of its workers affected by the shutdown.
- Disney, which was forced to close its theme parks worldwide, as well as its park hotels and cruise line, says it will pay its "cast members" (employees) during the shutdown.
- Ford owners who have their car note with the automaker's credit division can get a 90-day deferral on their loan.
There are many other companies also stepping up to the plate to take care of their own.
Not all are so fortunate
Yet many small businesses don't have the financial luxury of paying their employees during the crisis.
When states like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut order restaurants, bars, gyms, and casinos to close down until further notice, the smallest ones (and even a number of midsize operators) will be hard-pressed to carry over their employees as they face financial ruin themselves.
Which is why it is noteworthy that many large corporations are also stepping up, not just to help their own staff or customers, but to also assist in the broader effort.
And that's not a reference to biotechs or pharmaceutical companies pursuing a vaccine or other antidote to stop the pandemic. After all, that's in pursuit of their own bottom line and would be like calling out a retailer for continuing to sell goods during the downturn.
Rather, these businesses are taking a more expansive view of their position in the market, and performing more-selfless acts that help those beyond just their own narrow ecosystem. Below are seven companies that are going above and beyond what many might consider the minimum that businesses should be doing during this time.
In addition to hiring 100,000 workers to help with the crush in demand it is seeing from online shoppers, and raising the pay of its workers during this time, Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is undertaking several initiatives to help the broader community and the wider effort to combat the pandemic.
The e-commerce giant announced it was establishing a $5 million relief fund to help small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $7 million in annual revenue in the Seattle area that have been financially hurt by the outbreak. Businesses will submit applications detailing how much they believe they will lose in March; to be eligible, they will need to offer some kind of proof of the damages. Grants from the fund will be disbursed in April by a third-party administrator.
Amazon has also offered to use its substantial logistics capabilities to deliver coronavirus home test kits in the Seattle area at no charge.
Like Amazon, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) announced it was establishing a small-business relief fund, but the social networking platform's effort is much more extensive and global.
It is setting up a $100 million relief fund and is making 30,000 grants available to companies in 30 countries around the world. That equates to around $3,300 for every potential applicant, which would be free to use it to pay rent, employees, or other operating costs.
There was some initial confusion about the site because President Trump had announced it, and the media thought he was referring to Google's sister site Verily, which is setting up a similar site but just for people in the San Francisco Bay area.
But Google confirmed that it was working on such a project as well. Announced through a series of tweets, Google said it "is partnering with the U.S. government in developing a nationwide website that includes information about COVID-19 symptoms, risk, and testing information."
The search giant is also looking into ways it can use its location data and mapping features to track the spread of the virus, as well as how it can help public health organizations.
Additionally, it says it is financially supporting global relief efforts; taking measures to protect users from misinformation, including phishing, conspiracy theories, and malware; and promoting on its homepage greater awareness of simple measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
Luxury goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (OTC:LVMUY) is also turning its efforts toward the greater good by retooling its perfume and cosmetics factories to produce hydroalcoholic gel, otherwise known as hand sanitizer.
The product is in short supply everywhere, so the owner of high-end brands including Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Sephora will begin producing it and offering it free to health authorities and hospitals in France. It said it will continue to do so for as long as it is able.
DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber
Although it might seem much more mundane than a global relief effort, food delivery apps have agreed to assist their partner restaurants during this period, and the sum of their efforts is collectively much larger than those being offered by the tech giants.
States that closed food establishments are allowing them to still offer takeout and delivery, which means fast-food chains like McDonald's can remain open, as long as they close their dining rooms.
But it has also caused a surge in demand for food delivery, and companies like DoorDash, Grubhub (NYSE:GRUB), and Uber (NYSE:UBER) with its Uber Eats have announced they're suspending the collection of fees from independent restaurants.
DoorDash says its program can help the partner restaurants to generate up to $200 million in additional sales this year, while Grubhub says the collection of $100 million in fees will be deferred. Uber has similarly suspended collection of its fees from all 100,000 of its partner restaurants.
These are indeed extraordinary times, and it's good to see so many businesses taking extraordinary steps to ensure that not only those closest to them are cared for, but the broader community is as well.