Companies and COVID-19: What Do People Expect?

Companies and COVID-19:  What Do People Expect?

Photo Credit: Clark Tibbs, Unsplash

Guest Blog:  Olga Ivannikova, Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion Consultant

Companies have never existed in a vacuum.  Now we know just how much we depend on healthy communities, strong economies and engaged clients.

We need one another to get through this crisis. Even though we are isolated, we are not alone. We also need to retain our customers to keep both our businesses and the economy going.

These are unprecedented times (as quoted by many), so expectations from businesses are changing. Here is some data on what customers are thinking, according to a special brand trust report by Edelman:

  • Consumers are holding brands highly accountable, with 71% in agreement that businesses perceived as putting profit over people will lose trust permanently.
  • 65% of consumers said a brand's crisis response today will influence their likelihood of purchasing in the future.

People aren’t just thinking of their own well-being during these times. 86% of respondents said brands should support vulnerable people in their community.

80% of respondents to a survey conducted by Twitter said brands should show how they’re supporting their employees.

This sends a pretty clear message that customers want companies to do more than ever before to help their communities.

Your company might be going through an extreme upheaval itself and you might not have a lot of cash. There are solutions for every budget, or even no budget, if you are offering things you already have. NCP, for example, is offering free parking for key workers: LinkedIn is offering free online courses.

Whether you know it or not, you have a treasure trove of resources. It can be your knowledge about your field, budgeting skills or marketing: you and your team can use them to make a difference. You might have time that you used to spend commuting (ah, the good old days!) Can you use it to call a person who is alone? Do you have large networks of clients and fans whom you can mobilise?

However, first we have to identify who relies on us.  'Business Fights Poverty' and Harvard Kennedy School have provided useful guidance in relation to what you can do with your core business:

  • Ensure the health and safety of employees and customers, and regularly share information among employees, suppliers and distributors.
  • Put people first.
  • Identify vulnerable stakeholders in the company’s operations, value chain and communities.
  • Extend access to paid sick leave; support remote working; and support hourly employees and contractors.

I will leave you with two thoughts:

  1. People want you to succeed. They know that the world has been turned upside down and things are hard, but they want to see that you are transparent and that you care.
  2. 70% of respondents to a survey conducted by Twitter said brands should boost positivity and share positive stories. Sharing content that’s optimistic and encouraging doesn’t cost anything, yet it can go a long way in these hard times.

We always talk about how we want to ‘add value’. This is our chance. People won’t forget those who helped them through their own darkest hour.

Take care and good luck!

About Olga Ivannikova

Olga Ivannikova is the Founder of Private Goodness, a London-based corporate responsibility and inclusion consultancy. Olga moved to England from Russia in 2005 at the age of 16. After completing two degrees in law, with a focus on business and human rights, she worked for a number of regional and national charities, helping them build impactful relationships with private companies.

Olga has managed corporate responsibility partnerships with over one hundred organisations, including banks such as Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Bank of New York Mellon and major international law firms like Cleary Gottlieb and K&L Gates.  She has provided training on corporate responsibility to companies based in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.  In 2019, Private Goodness won an International CSR Excellence Award.

During the lockdown, Private Goodness is offering free workshops and resources to companies that want to help their communities in the most impactful way on any budget. You can visit www.privategoodness.com or email info@privategoodness.com


Consumers believe brands can lead coronavirus response, but demand practical solutions:  https://www.marketingdive.com/news/consumers-believe-brands-can-lead-coronavirus-response-but-demand-practica/575199/

Edelman Trust Barometer – Covid-19: https://www.edelman.com/research/edelman-trust-covid-19-demonstrates-essential-role-of-private-sector

Advertising during COVID-19:  https://marketing.twitter.com/emea/en_gb/insights/twitter-covid19-advertising-policy

Free parking for NHS Staff: https://www.ncpsolutions.co.uk/news/free-parking-for-nhs-staff/

LinkedIn Free Courses:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/linkedin/

'Business Fights Poverty' and Harvard Kennedy School:  https://businessfightspoverty.org/articles/covid-19-response-framework/

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