30. July 2021

Companies who dare to trust

Trusting can be challenging – especially in today’s crisis. In the face of uncertain prospects for the future, individuals, nations and of course companies tend to become particularly concerned about their own wellbeing and existential survival. We intuitively assume that during times of crisis our behaviors are increasingly guided by more self-interests, as the German University of Erfurt’s Covid-19 Snapshot Monitoring indeed revealed. Trusting in our future, in others, our partners, companies, governments or society as a whole suddenly seems to slip away and be replaced by rather self-centered and self-protective behaviors. Accordingly, we would not expect individuals - and for sure not competitive companies - to be particularly partnering by investing in activities benefitting others during the shaky market conditions this global pandemic produces.

And yet, it seems that this assumption is wrong. There are companies that react much less selfishly than we would believe. In my quick search I found, counterintuitively, exceptionally good citizenship and partnering reactions, investing exactly in trusting in stakeholders when it became most difficult. Some e.g. voluntarily shared financial benefits with their employees, others abstained from taking advantage of the situation to benefit their own profit. It infused me with great hope to read that companies dared to put trust and the wellbeing of others and the society first, during a time when it would have been socially-acceptable to put self-interests first. Already my quick search showed me that a crisis can paradoxically be the best time to rejuvenate our very human core through our trusting, cooperating and partnering behaviors for the greater good of all.

Please join me in shedding light on particularly trusting and partnering reactions of companies and people during the pandemic! I am happy to start a list of impressive reactions by companies that displayed, in this unique historical moment, partnership before profit, investing substantially in good citizenship behavior despite facing the uncertainties of this global pandemic. I hope you’ll get inspired and I’d highly appreciate if you join in to help accomplish it:

  • Furniture giant Ikea demonstrated partnering behavior by completely waiving short-time compensation in Switzerland, but also in other countries, despite sales-damaging lockdowns. According to its own statement, the crisis can be overcome without help from the state.
  • St. Gallen-based Abacus Research AG did something similar by paying back 1.3 million Swiss Francs in short-time work benefits to the canton's unemployment fund. According to Abacus management, it would have been "morally indefensible" to keep the money despite a good annual result. Economically altruistic decisions like these are praiseworthy, as they allow scarce resources to be deployed where they are more urgently needed.
  • Google has taken up the fight against the virus on several fronts at once. For example, the company provided over $100 million in donations and 50,000 hours of volunteer support. In doing so, they support organizations such as the WHO or Doctors Without Borders. Internally, Google also trustingly supports its employees. For that purpose, it established its Covid-19 fund which enabled all employees in quarantine or with potential symptoms of Covid-19 to take a paid sick leave.
  • Italy was hit particularly hard at the beginning of the crisis. Large fashion labels such as Calzedonia, Giorgio Armani, Prada and many more subsequently converted large parts of their production facilities completely to the manufacturing of desperately-needed hygiene masks and smocks. In this way, existing capacities were creatively adapted and could be used in an innovative way to provide relief as quickly as possible.
  • The last of numerous stories that I came across is that of Avi Schiffmann . The 17-year-old (!) was an important partner to most of us during the early days of the pandemic, without us even realizing it. He built the best coronavirus-tracking website, nCoV2019.live, with over 30 million visitors daily. In doing so, he passed up an $8 million advertising offer so that potential ads and trackers would not make the site slower or unusable for users with poorer internet connections.

Have you come across exceptional “partnering before profit” reactions of companies? Please share with me below or directly at shania@human-facts.com to add on to this list! It is not meant to be a perfect list. I am totally aware that large companies listed here might be at the same time under critique for other behaviors. Nevertheless, to single out exceptional partnering reactions and activities in response to this specific pandemic, can inspire us all and fuel our trust in our future. By sharing those stories of exceptional human reactions, I hope that it’s those exceptionally respectful, responsible and partnering stories displayed from companies who dared to trust that stay with us from the pandemic.

Shania Ender
Shania Ender
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