If the Chinese government had conscious leaders willing to defy big pockets and do what was best for people and the planet, we’d all be going on with life as usual.
Instead, here we are blaming each other. This crisis is certainly taking a toll on our healthcare system and supply chain, along with increasing societal vulnerabilities. Mistakes were definitely made and they will need to be evaluated. In my opinion, criminal negligence or actions that cause deaths deserve justice but instead of placing blame right now, I’m most concerned about how we will all get through this together.
We need social distancing to curb the spread of Coronavirus. Stopping the spread is for the highest good of all, especially our fragile, immunocompromised, and those already susceptible to pneumonia and lung issues (me), but doing so is going to financially devastate many.
The financial ramifications of social distancing are not falling off the radar. Here are things being done to soften the blow while we curb the spread:
- The Department of Labor is allowing states more latitude to enable more employees, which may include part-time employees or self-employed contractors if a state allows, to file for unemployment without having to quit.
- Pennsylvania is working to protect workers forced into quarantine or isolation by guaranteeing their jobs.
- Companies are being compelled to move to all-remote reporting and for those that can’t, a bill is currently in the Senate to obligate employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide additional FMLA benefits for Coronavirus-related absences. Larger companies are being encouraged to extend PTO. I’ve heard payroll taxes may be suspended to help relieve the burden on those companies.
- The Federal Reserve cut the benchmark interest rate to 0%-0.25%. I haven’t heard yet that considerations will be made for the mom-and-pop shop owners and self-employed, such as my husband, who still rely on being on-site to do work.
- Some utilities are offering to waive late fees and forego service suspensions. Some are even offering special payback plans.
Things individuals can do to support themselves and others:
- Many fitness instructors who cannot go to the gym are leading remote workouts. I hope they open a Patreon account to enable those who are able to donate to do so. If they’re really tech-savvy or find some tech talent-for-hire, they might be able to set up a subscription service.
- Musicians can do the same thing. I’m already thinking about how my band can hold our practices via Zoom video conferencing. We’re preparing for a June 20th gig that may no longer happen in person, but we could still perform digitally. If digital performances are well-received, maybe we’ll be able to play even more since our largest obstacle to practicing and gigging is logistics.
- While it’s discouraged (if not already prohibited) to go dine at your local mom-and-pop restaurant, many are delivering or offering food for pick up. You can also buy gift certificates to keep them floating during this time.
- I have seen that some people are continuing to pay their cleaning services even though they are not using them at the moment.
- While parents aren’t busy shuffling the kids to and from practices and activities, this is a really great time to think about what’s important to accomplish in your career. It’s a good time to devise a strategic career plan, get your career tools into shape, revisit and refine your brand, and start getting reacquainted with people in that sphere.
In a lot of cases, it’s the conscious leaders of corporations who have stepped up to show the world how to show up for each other. They deserve attention to show others the way, and they deserve positive reinforcement for doing the right thing.
Here are some of the companies rising to the occasion.
- Comcast has taken various different measures:
- Offering two months of free Internet for students to study remotely. If you have an X1 or Flex remote, just say “Coronavirus” into your remote and their collection of grade-based educational content will appear.
- Pausing their data plans.
- Extending hot spots to accommodate low-income communities.
- Expanding broadband to every customer.
- Offering bill assistance and agreeing not to overcharge customers (AT&T and Verizon also agreed to this, though I heard people are still receiving shut off threats), charge late fees, or shut off service for non-payment.
- Bill Gates donated $100M to fund testing and Adobe is offering free Creative Cloud tools for students through May 31.
- Alibaba owner Jack Ma sent 500,000 tests and one million masks to the US.
- The Airbnb CEO is allowing penalty-free cancellations during certain booking dates. Guests can cancel a reservation and get a full refund. Hosts can also cancel reservations without impacting their Superhost status.
- Citadel is donating $7.5M in financial relief to China’s hardest-hitting provinces.
- Apple is allowing Apple cardholders to skip their March payment penalty-free and interest-free.
- I have to give a huge shout-out to Rep. Katie Porter on gaining the commitment of the Centers for Disease Control Director to fund COVID-19 testing for all.
Keep in mind that we are all dealing with is a direct result of wealthy collectors of exotic animals for food, healing, and status who have lobbied the Chinese government to keep wet markets open. This is in spite of most of the Chinese people NOT shopping there or supporting the continuation of these wet markets where SARS and MERS are said to have previously originated.
Let’s all make a call to action for the world’s wealthiest to act with more consciousness. Let them know via social media, sharing, tagging, etc., that we are watching and we need them to step up now more than ever.
Amazon, while grappling with many supply chain and logistics shortfalls, is implementing controls to make sure that its sellers aren’t price-gauging customers. It will also continue to pay all hourly office employees, such as cafeteria workers and janitorial staff, during the period of mandatory remote reporting. Drivers and fulfillment workers, meanwhile, are busier than ever before. On the other hand, Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, is being criticized for asking his Whole Foods employees to donate their time off to sick co-workers instead of footing the bill.
Richard Branson at first downplayed the threat of the virus ahead of his cruise line launch and now is lobbying the British Prime Minister for financial relief for the aviation and travel industries in order to save jobs.
Do you think these leaders can do more? If so, I encourage you to let them know what you want to see them doing more of.
More importantly, share the actions of conscious leaders that you have admired and tag them so that they can get the recognition, appreciation, and positive reinforcement they deserve!
Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play.
While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales.
Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award.