Unilever (UL -0.20%) has taken bold steps to take care of not only its workers, but also its vendors and retailers. The company has committed 500 million euros (roughly $580 million) of "cash flow relief to support livelihoods across its extended value chain," according to a press release.

This includes offering early payments to "vulnerable" small and medium-sized suppliers and offering credit to "selected small-scale retail customers whose business relies on Unilever, to help them manage and protect jobs." The company says it will also keep its workers from experiencing any drops in pay "as a result of market disruption or being unable to perform their role, for up to three months."

The exterior of a Unilever office building.

Image source: Getty Images.

Protecting the supply chain

Unilever, which makes soap and hand sanitizer among other products, clearly understands that it needs it suppliers and retailers to make it through the coronavirus pandemic. It's the rare company operating from a position of strength since it makes in-demand items and it's doing its part to help not just its employees but vendors, retailers, and even contractors who are not direct employees.

Unilever has also donated 100 million euros (retail value) in soap, sanitizer, bleach, and food to various organizations battling the coronavirus.

A long-range view

"We hope that our donation of 100 million euros of soap, sanitizer, bleach, and food will make a significant contribution toward protecting people's lives and that by helping to safeguard our workers' incomes and jobs, we are giving some peace of mind during these uncertain times," said CEO Alan Jope in the press release. "Our strong cash flow and balance sheet mean that we can, and should, give this additional support."

Not many companies dealing with the pandemic can afford to do this. For others that can, Uniliver is providing a blueprint as to how to protect its long-term interests while also doing the right thing.