Volume 02 | March 31, 2020
Courage in a Crisis
“The truly good and wise...will always act
in the noblest manner that circumstances will allow.”
- Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, 340 BC

It’s easy (or, at least, easier) to do the right thing when we are operating from a position of strength. That is not where we stand today. In a crisis, the temptation is to narrow our circle of concern, to think only about what’s best for us. Thinking this way might even seem prudent. And yet we also know that taking a wider view, asking what others need, is most crucial during challenging times. As long as our countries and economies remain locked down, there is an opportunity for companies to distinguish themselves by serving their stakeholders and executing their Social Purpose. Now is when it is most needed, most valuable, and most worthy of recognition.

This special issue of Social Purpose Foresight recognizes companies and CEOs who are showing wisdom in leadership. The costs of the pandemic will be substantial no matter what we do. The individuals and organizations we highlight here have chosen to increase their burden. They offer genuine assistance not only where it is needed, but commensurate with their ability to offer it. No tokenism. No hands forced by legislation. Perhaps they recognize that their very capacity to help now is a by-product of the success they achieved through the effort and support of the employees and societies that make all enterprise possible. By showing wise leadership, by rising to the biggest challenge of the day, they are owning their Social Purpose.

Rising up in a crisis is not just about doing the right thing, it is a chance to build trust and loyalty within your stakeholder network.

The companies that stand out are those with the courage to do what is right and what is wise.
Galen Weston / Loblaws
The Loblaws CEO has distinguished himself, and his company, not only through their actions, but through their communication. Mr. Weston has reached out regularly and directly to stakeholders throughout the crisis, demonstrating the kind of leadership we need now more than ever.

The company is now offering a temporary 15% pay bump to store and distribution
centre workers. They have also followed the trend of reducing their hours to allow for
more cleaning and rest for employees, and of adding plexiglass shields at checkout counters. At both Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart locations, they are offering dedicated hours for the elderly and disabled. On top of all this, they are hiring temporary workers to help keep their supply chain robust. No doubt this is welcome news to the thousands who have been laid off.

Joe Natale / Rogers
Reaching well outside the telecommunications field,Rogers has partnered with Food Bank Canada in a bid to raise $150 million to support local food banks. They are leveraging their vast network of digital, radio, and television assets to spread the word and raise awareness of the great need facing millions of Canadians.

To top it off, they are donating one million meals that will provide security to those in need.

"We hope to encourage fellow Canadians and other corporations to contribute in any way they can. Together we can all do our part to make these uncertain times a little easier.” - Joe Natale

Stephen Hunter / Sunwing Travel Group
The airline known for connecting Canadians to sunny locales is now helping those trapped on holiday come home. Unused seats on flights will be made available to Canadians, including non-Sunwing customers, free of charge.

Michael Medline / Sobeys
Aptly branded “Hero Pay”, Sobey’s is upping its support of the workers who keep its grocery stores running. This includes a bonus of $50 a week for all employees; an hourly bump after 20 hours worked; a top-up program for employees in self-isolation or caring for

Greg Hicks / Canadian Tire
Like other retailers, Canadian Tire announced that it would voluntarily close “all nonessential retail banners” including stores like Sport Chek and Mark’s through April 2nd. Moreover, it would continue to pay its full- and part-time workers.

Michael McCain / Maple Leaf Foods
The food giant has announced that it will be giving a weekly bonus to support its front line staff. It will also invest approximately $2 million to support emergency food relief efforts and $2.5 million in a new fund to provide personal support to front line health providers during this crisis.

Satya Nadella / Microsoft
The tech giant has taken massive and sweeping steps to help both its workers and the community battle the COVID-19 crisis. In line with what is fast becoming expected from responsible companies, they are closing down stores, reducing hours at HQ, and offering varying levels of pay to staff across the board. Where they stand out is their direct support of the community: directing $1M to a response fund in Puget Sound, where they are based, and giving access to their technological solutions to educators and frontline health workers.

Gene Lee / Darden Restaurants
The multinational restaurant group is closing its North American restaurants including Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse. It is also withholding its quarterly dividend and drawing on credit to help fund an emergency payment plan for all employees. This is over and above its permanent paid sick leave policy, available even to hourly workers.

“As we continue to make investments in our employees, we strengthen our greatest
competitive edge -- because when our team members win, our guests win.”-Gene Lee.
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