We are living in deeply uncertain times. It is during such times that we need to remain absolutely true to our purpose – together we invest for a better future – and keep all of our stakeholders at the heart of our decision-making. While our immediate priority is protecting our employees and maintaining service to our clients and customers, we also recognise that the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, and especially those who are already vulnerable, is significant.
I am proud of the attitude that our employees have shown in addressing the challenges we face. We are all part of our local communities and now, more than ever, it is important that we remain true to the behaviours that help us reflect our purpose in everything that we do.
It is in this context that we are going to immediately be releasing £500,000 from our charitable giving budget to be directed to our communities most in need, to relieve hardship with those most vulnerable, across our global operations. We will be focusing this money to support three main areas:
- Emergency/crisis supplies to deal with the immediate impact
- Supporting the most disadvantaged over the coming months – for example, through supporting the continued provision of food banks and shelter
- Supporting elderly and vulnerable people who live alone or are isolated.
Many of our people have shown a desire to help in their local communities, and have asked how our business can support them in doing this. We are looking at the most effective ways in which we can encourage this, while reinforcing the need to maintain all government guidelines to meet public health requirements.
We also look to best practice from outside our business, and we are talking with peers and other outside organisations to inform our approach. In the UK we are one of the first businesses to sign up to the C-19 Business Pledge. This is an initiative that allows businesses to demonstrate their commitment to doing what they can to help tackle the pandemic, and is designed to address not only the immediate challenges, but also the UK’s recovery over the medium to long term.
The Pledge asks businesses to focus on three main areas in which they can have an immediate and long-lasting impact:
- Developing action plans to support employees – including practical support and advice on financial security, mental health, personal wellbeing as well as reintegration back into work
- Publishing clear and simple advice for customers, and establishing specialist teams where possible
- Committing to helping communities – for example, by supporting projects that offer practical and financial assistance to those who need it most.
It’s by working together in this way that we will get through this, and we will share further updates on our activity in due course. This is a stressful time for us all, but it’s important to recognise that these times of dramatic change do settle. We remain absolutely true to our purpose – together, we will continue to invest for a better future for all our stakeholders.
Chief Executive Officer