8 Ways Family Enterprises are Doing Good for the World Through the Covid-19 Crisis

Courtney Collette
Partner and Senior Advisor, Cambridge Advisors to Family Enterprise; COO, Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise
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Their altruism, fast and innovative responses, and values-driven leadership demonstrate that families and family enterprises are guardians of their communities and companies, and problem-solvers for the pandemic.

Reverberations from the Covid-19 pandemic remind us of our interconnectedness. Our world is global, highly networked, and interdependent for goods, services, and capital. This is the inevitable outcome of globalization brought about by technology, innovation, corporate expansion, transportation, curiosity and exploration, and also people migration.

The Coronavirus has no borders and does not discriminate. It is affecting all of us. It calls for us to band together as a unified people to fight the pandemic together.

Many families and family enterprises are responding to the crisis in generous and innovative ways. At a time when the world needs civic-minded leadership to encourage cooperation—both locally and internationally—many families are setting the example. Their altruism, fast and innovative responses, and values-driven leadership demonstrate that families and family businesses lead the way as guardians of their communities and companies.

 

Below are 8 illustrative ways we see family enterprises helping the world in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, showing true leadership and bringing hope in the face of this crisis.

  1. Direct Philanthropy
  2. Donating Goods to People in Need
  3. Redirecting Production to Manufacture Needed Supplies
  4. Reducing the Cost of Services for Customers
  5. Keeping Services Available Even if Customers Can’t Pay
  6. Closing Stores to Stop the Spread of the Virus
  7. Continuing to Pay Employees
  8. Increasing Pay and Assistance to Suppliers and Employees

 

1. Direct Philanthropy

  • Li Ka-Shing donated $13 million to help the city of Wuhan, and distributed 250,000 face masks to social welfare organizations and homes for the elderly in Hong Kong.
    CK Asset Holdings Ltd. is one of the largest property developers in Hong Kong and is a 2nd generation family business.
  • Grupo Votorantim donated $10 million to deprived cities in Brazil that are fighting Covid-19 and to health institutions to purchase essential equipment.
    Grupo Votorantim is a 5th generation conglomerate mainly in metals, energy, and financial sectors, owned by the Ermirio de Moraes family, headquartered in São Paulo state, Brazil.
  • Giovanni Ferrero and his mother, Maria Franca Fissolo, gave 10 million euros to the Italian government’s national emergency commission to fight the coronavirus.
    Giovanni Ferrero, 3rd generation, and his mother, Maria Franca Fissolo, own the food company, Ferrero, the maker of Nutella and Kinder chocolates, headquartered in Italy.
  • Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, the husband and wife, 2nd generation, co-CEOs of Prada, donated two full intensive care and resuscitation units each to three Milan hospitals.
    Prada is an iconic fashion brand owned by the Prada family, headquartered in Italy.
  • Anand Mahindra, third generation Chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra, donated his salary to create a fund for small businesses and the self-employed in India, and committed to add more over the next few months, to help those hardest hit by the crisis.
    The Mahindra Group is a multinational conglomerate that operates in 100 countries and 22 sectors, including automobile manufacturing, aerospace, alternative energy, steel, and others, headquartered in India.

 

2. Donating Goods to People in Need

  • Tyson Foods donated 2.6 million pounds of chicken and food product across 18 U.S. states, and aims to deliver 4 million pounds of food (equivalent to 16 million meals) to food pantries by the end of March to help feed vulnerable populations. Tyson Foods has also pledged $13M to support local communities where the company operates in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
    Tyson is the world's second largest processor of chicken, beef, and pork, headquartered in Arkansas, United States, owned by the 4th generation of the Tyson family.
  • Tadashi Yanai and Family is donating 10 million masks to medical institutions in Japan and abroad, including one million masks to hospitals in New York.
    Tadashi Yanai is the founder and president of Fast Retailing, the world’s fourth largest apparel company.
  • Estée Lauder is donating—on a weekly basis—10,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to New York state.
    Estée Lauder is a 3rd generation, multinational manufacturer of skincare products, headquartered in New York City.
  • L’Occitane donated over 10,000 hand creams to NHS workers, 25,000 units of soap and hand cream to the Paris University hospital trust, and 70,000 litres of hand sanitizer in its home country of France.
    L’Occitane is an international retailer of body, face, fragrances and home products, headquartered in France.

 

3. Redirecting Production to Manufacture Needed Supplies

Masks and Gowns:

  • Parkdale organized a coalition of nine major American apparel companies, and are retooling to make more than one million face masks per week as the clothing industry tries to alleviate shortages of protective equipment to combat the Coronavirus.
    Parkdale Inc. is a 3rd generation textile company that processes 60% of the United States’ annual cotton consumption and provides cotton to customers worldwide, headquartered in North Carolina, United States.
  • Ralph Lauren is starting production of 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns for healthcare providers.
    Ralph Lauren Corporation is an American fashion company and lifestyle brand that produces apparel, home furnishings, accessories, and fragrances, headquartered in New York City.

Ventilators:

  • Dyson designed and built a completely new ventilator in 10 days. The design can be manufactured quickly to meet rising demand during the pandemic. Dyson will manufacture 15,000 ventilators to start, and is donating 5,000 of them.
    Dyson is a technology company that designs and manufactures household appliances, founded in the UK and headquartered in Singapore.
  • Ford is redirecting manufacturing to boost production of simplified ventilators, and is supplying tens of thousands of Ford-produced face shields to hospitals.
    Ford is 5th generation, multinational automaker that has its main headquarters in Michigan, United States.

Sanitizers:

  • Cachaça 51 reassigned some of its production line to manufacture ethyl alcohol sanitizer for donation to local hospitals and health institutions in Brazil.
    Cachaça 51 is a 2nd generation alcoholic beverage manufacturer, owned by the Muller family, headquartered in São Paulo state, Brazil.
  • Menarini converted a production line at its Florence factory to make disinfectant gel that will be distributed free of charge to Italy’s civil protection agency.
    Menarini is one of Italy’s largest pharmaceutical companies, owned by Landini Aleotti and her three children.

 

4. Reducing the Cost of Services for Customers

  • U-Haul offered 30 days of free self-storage to all university students who have been impacted by schedule changes at their universities due to campus closings.
    U-Haul is a 3rd generation  American moving equipment and storage rental company, headquartered in Arizona.
  • Ford will give some of its Ford credit customers payment relief, and has pulled all of their car sale ads.
    Ford is 5th generation, multinational automaker that has its main headquarters in Michigan, United States.
  • Ayala Group will waive rent in the malls that they own which are not allowed to operate until mid-April 2020.
    Ayala Group, in its 8th generation, is the Philippines’ oldest and largest conglomerate with a portfolio of diverse businesses, including retail, education, real estate, banking, telecommunications, water infrastructure, renewable energy, and more.

 

5. Keeping Services Available Even if Customers Can’t Pay

  • Comcast, along with other broadcasting providers, signed a pledge to keep Americans’ internet connected for the next 60 days, even if people cannot afford to pay.
    Comcast Corporation is a 2nd generation, American telecommunications conglomerate, headquartered in Pennsylvania.
  • Sy Siblings, Philippines’ largest property developers, have waived rent for all tenants in its Supermalls until mid-April 2020, as well as allocated millions to supply medical workers with protective equipment.
    SM Group is a 2nd generation conglomerate in The Philippines with interests in shopping mall development and management, retailreal estate development, banking, and tourism.
  • Walmart is waiving rent for all Walmart tenants for the month of April 2020.
    Walmart is a 3rd generation, multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores, headquartered in Arkansas, United States.

 

6. Closing Stores to Stop the Spread of the Virus

  • Gap closed all of its 3,500 stores for two weeks during which time all employees will continue to be paid.
    Gap is a 2nd generation company owned by the Fisher family, headquartered in California, United States.
  • Lego shut down all of its stores outside of China until April 12.
    Lego is a 4th generation, global toy manufacturer, owned by the Kristiansen family, headquartered in Denmark.
  • IKEA temporarily closed all of its stores worldwide to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
    IKEA is the world’s largest furniture brand. This 2nd generation Swedish-origin, Dutch-headquartered multinational group designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances, and home accessories.


7. Continuing to Pay Employees

  • Levi Strauss has closed all of its stores and said in a statement: “All of our store employees will be paid for their scheduled hours during these closures.”
    Levi Strauss & Co. is a 5th generation American clothing company, owned by the Haas family, known worldwide for its Levi's brand of denim jeans. 
  • John and Denise Coates, sibling owners of Bet365 and the football/soccer club Stoke City, guarantee that the full-time staff of Stoke City will retain their salaries for five months.
    Bet365 Group Ltd is a British online gambling company with more than 45 million customers globally.
  • Carhartt will continue to pay its employees even though Carhartt company stores remain closed through April 4, we are compensating our associates.
    Carhartt, Inc., is a 4th generation, American apparel company known for its work clothes, such as jackets, coats, overalls, jeans, fire-resistant clothing and hunting clothing, headquartered in Michigan.


8. Increasing Pay and Assistance to Suppliers and Employees

  • Magazine Luiza, a white goods retailer, quickly launched an online platform for micro-enterprises, small businesses, and freelancers to sell their products during the pandemic, launching in 5 days what would have ordinarily taken 5 months. Magazine Luiza is absorbing the delivery cost for the seller’s goods and has reduced its fee below market rate during the crisis.
    Magazine Luiza, a 3rd generation retail company, is owned by the Trajano family, headquartered in Brazil.
  • Cargill commits to pay extra money to farmers and slaughterhouse workers who are working hard to meet surging demand from consumers due to the Coronavirus.
    Cargill, a 7th generation family business, is the largest international food conglomerate that is privately held, headquartered in the state of Minnesota, United States.
  • Walmart raised hourly pay for its warehouse employees and committed to giving $550 million in cash bonuses to its hourly staff.
    Walmart is a 3rd generation, multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores, headquartered in Arkansas, United States.

 

Note: These examples are provided as of March 31, 2020. All examples are retrieved from public sources.

Courtney Collette, Senior Advisor & Partner and COO, CFEG
Partner and Senior Advisor, Cambridge Advisors to Family Enterprise; COO, Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise

Courtney Collette is Chief Operating Officer of the Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise, a research and education institute devoted to multigenerational family enterprises. Since 2011, she has led its education programming, conferences, research studies, and publications. As head of education programming, Ms. Collette designs curricula for seminars, workshops, and online courses for family enterprise audiences worldwide including bespoke private programs for individual families and organizations. She has authored several publications pertaining to the success of family enterprises, including articles, Harvard case studies, and the book, Next Generation Success, a 10-year study of next generation talent development in global family enterprises. Ms. Collette spent a decade as a trusted advisor to business families on the issues of governance, family relationships, succession, and next generation readiness.