What Companies Should Do Now: A Framework for Action

A Message from Ethisphere CEO Tim Erblich

The impacts of the coronavirus, COVID-19, are unfolding before our eyes and the impact is being felt in so many ways. We are in uncharted waters and for many of us, experiencing a moment that is unlike any other in our lifetimes.

My closest personal experience is when I worked in NYC and lived just outside it during September 11th. While that day was one of the saddest in my life, it was for me, also one of the most affirming for the goodness of humanity.

My grandparents lived through the depression and world wars. I’ve heard their stories of hardship, read the books, and seen the films.

A common thread weaves through these times of unfathomable disruption: leaders lead.

Time to Lead

Today, it is time for the Ethisphere community to lead as well. The moment is now.

The companies that have the most impact in the world – the largest, global, and best performing companies – have to be out in front on addressing the impacts of the coronavirus. We know they can do it. We see it every day and every year when we recognize the World’s Most Ethical Companies™, hear leading voices at the Global Ethics Summit, and convene the hundreds of global member companies of our Business Ethics Leadership Alliance.

These companies are not afraid to address tough issues. They work hard to make their communities a better place through programs that touch those at greatest risk; help employees succeed through diversity, inclusion, wellness and mental health initiatives; collaborate with other organizations to protect the planet; and a wide range of other actions that make the world a better place. These are not small endeavors. It takes leadership, dedication, resources, and a sense of purpose.

Every company can make a difference. Many are contemplating how. What does values-based leadership look like in practice? Here’s our checklist:

desert road

“The companies that have the most impact in the world – the largest, global, and best performing companies – have to be out in front on addressing the impacts of the coronavirus. We know they can do it.”

  • Take the long view

    Short-term profits really don’t matter right now. How you behave matters. No one will remember your quarterly results in five years, but as Maya Angelou has said, “People will never forget how you made them feel.” Making some sacrifices now will help people feel safe, informed, and supported.

  • Communicate frequently and with transparency

    At times like this, there is no such thing as too much.

  • Help those you touch

    Employees, associates, stakeholders, the communities in which you operate. We’re all feeling the impacts of the coronavirus. Step up and step up some more.

  • Provide unlimited sick leave for anyone affected

    Their families will also need help, most likely financial. Set up funds to do so.

  • Pay special attention to suppliers, vendors, and those third parties that are much smaller than you

    They will need support.

  • Provide unlimited leave time 

    Businesses and communities everywhere are feeling the impacts of the coronavirus. Provide unlimited leave time for anyone in your organization interested in volunteering.

  • Place extra focus on the culture of your organization 

    And be particularly aware of pressure to compromise results. We can support you there – stay tuned as Ethisphere makes additional free resources and tools available. My colleague Erica Salmon Byrne will also be a frequent voice sharing insights.

  • Take care of the non-profits and health care organizations in your communities

    They will need your support, and goodness we need them.

  • Be kind

    Radical kindness will go so far to make these demanding times more humane.

And finally, something that is at the core to what we do at Ethisphere, share what’s working with other organizations. We are committed to doing the same. As we say often at Ethisphere—doing what’s right and ‘above and beyond’ is good business. It’s never been more true.

We’ll get through this – with extraordinary leadership, commitment, and dedication by companies and individuals alike. Our moment is now.




COVID-19: An evolving crisis
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