Crises Can Bring Out The Best in Us: 27 Ways Companies Are Stepping Up
Crises can bring out the best in us. It can be hard to believe that when headlines are crowded with toilet paper hoarders or raucous spring breakers under the impression that they're invincible, but it's true. A paper by the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center found that assumptions about people acting in their own best interest during a crisis are "fundamentally incorrect" and that "human beings…typically rise to the daunting challenges that disasters pose."
And that's exactly what we're seeing in terms of how individuals and companies are reaching out and taking care of their communities during this unprecedented nationwide response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Distilleries everywhere from Brooklyn to Bristol are converting their production lines to make hand sanitizer instead of spirits. Online tools companies are making their products free to use, including Adobe, which is giving students and teachers free at-home Creative Cloud access.
It's a great trend, and I'm excited to cover some more specific examples of it. But I first need to be clear that a nation dependent on the generosity of companies to provide human rights (like free childcare for working parents, guaranteed healthcare, paid time off to take care of sick family members, and more) and a safety net for its citizens is a nation that is failing.
But until we have a robust system of benefits available to individuals regardless of their employment status and a coherent federal response strategy to things like global pandemic, we've got to laud the companies and leaders that are digging into their own pockets to provide for their employees and their communities. Whether it's offering content for free to stuck-at-home viewers, repurposing factories to produce personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers, or expanding their available benefits to cover their team's needs—or a dozen other ways to help—companies are stepping up and reaching out to help.
Here's a non-exhaustive list (stuff is changing all the time!) of some cool things companies are doing to help us all get through this stressful period:
Free access to tools & programs
- Peloton is offering a free 90-day trial of its workout app. If your gym has closed, give it a try—you don't need a Peloton-brand bike to get started, as there are also classes for yoga and strength training, among others.
- Audible has made kid- and family-friendly audiobooks available for free for all users, whether they have an Audible account or not, at Stories.Audible.com.
- Smartsheet is offering free template sets for remote working and for building a coronavirus preparedness portal.
- Technology skills platform Pluralsight is making much of its conference library free until July 1, 2020.
- Database platform MongoDB is offering free database credits for developers working on COVID-19 health projects.
- Cloud infrastructure provider DigitalOcean created its Hub for Good to connect developers working on COVID-19 relief efforts and are providing up to $1,000, and a total of $100,000, in credits to individual not-for-profit projects
- Enterprise software delivery company CloudBees is offering its Rollout software for free to non-profits and NGOs helping to fight COVID-19.
- Collaboration software suite Quip is offering its productivity tools to teams working from home for free.
- Cloud-based software company New Relic is providing free access to their platform for 90 days to any organization engaged in COVID-19 relief efforts.
- Software company Elastic is offering free and open classes for their tools and programs.
Utilizing their expertise in the fight against COVID-19
- Supply chain management company Flexport is taking care of the logistics behind getting PPE to hospitals in need, arranging and paying for transit of donated supplies.
- Biotech company CSL Behring has offered to help governments by developing a hyperimmune serum to use as part of treatment against the virus.
- Laboratory equipment company Waters is donating gear and offering live science classes for schools that have implemented homeschooling.
- Hyperlocal social networking service Nextdoor is partnering with the National Governors Association to deliver state-specific resources to communities, as well as launching new product features like the Help Map where users can make themselves available to help neighbors, like by dropping off groceries.
Taking care of employees and their communities
- Microsoft will keep paying the hourly workers who take care of their campus and pledged $2.5 million to help the COVID-19 response in Seattle.
- Google is allowing all temporary staff and vendors to take paid sick leave if they're sick or under quarantine.
- American Express is donating $2 million in grants to organizations fighting the coronavirus, including the CDC and Feeding America. They have also partnered with Hilton to donate up to one million hotel rooms across the United States to frontline medical staff!
- The S&P Global Foundation allocated $2 million to support COVID-19 response efforts, including food banks and UNICEF. The Foundation also announced a second round of grants aimed at supporting the global response to COVID-19 to widen its impact globally and support small businesses in this critical time of need, bringing total contributions to USD $4M. Additionally, S&P Global has enhanced HR/benefits support for our employees and made COVID-19 research freely available to support market participants, including complimentary Panjiva supply chain data for government agencies and hospitals to track PPE (personal protective equipment).
- Morgan Stanley is donating $10 million to organizations combating the coronavirus, including Feeding America and the World Health Organization.
- Adobe is donating $3 million to nonprofits providing assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as offering its programs for free to students, which was already mentioned.
- Dell is donating money and technology to communities in China and the US hit by the coronavirus, including matching employees' donations to the CDC's Emergency Response Fund.
- T. Rowe Price is donating $500,000 to global and local organizations working to relieve the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Advertising platform VideoAmp is donating 50,000 meals to Feeding America.
- Construction project management software company Procore is enabling employees to work from home and creating a supportive environment to do so, providing free IT resources including hardware and software, virtual entertainment offerings like yoga and mindfulness classes, and implementing flexible hours for parents and caregivers.
- Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 small businesses.
- Mortgage company Freddie Mac is waiving late fees and penalties and halting evictions until at least May 17, 2020, along with other relief options.
- Intuit is providing $8 million across donations to small businesses and nonprofits and loan payment deferrals of up to 8 weeks.
With those examples of leadership and generosity in mind, how can you help support your community today?
Growing Your Career in Technical Support: 4 Tips for Getting Hired at Elastic from Support Director Heidi Sager
Heidi Sager loves math, but she also loves working with people.
She always has, which is why she enjoyed her part-time job working at the IT department of the University of Colorado while she was studying electrical engineering. (She'd started in computer science, but explains that it "wasn't for her" and switched her major.) She helped students and professors with word processors, basic programming, and software checkout, and took a full-time job after graduation as a UNIX system administrator.
Working at Relativity—the global tech company that equips legal and compliance professionals with a powerful data-organizing and discovery platform—looked different in 2020. The highly collaborative environment of their Chicago headquarters transitioned to a virtual setting, and just like companies around the country, Relativity adapted their goals and major projects to a completely remote environment.
Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
Workplace Revolution: From Talk to Collective Action<p><strong>When</strong>: March 8-12, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$820</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://cvent.me/ZQ4BbE" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>The Forum on Workplace Inclusion's 33rd annual conference includes 12 session tracks, from DEI Strategy to Social Responsibility, along with 59 workshops and daily networking sessions. This year's theme focuses on one question: "What will it take to start a workplace revolution that moves us from talk to action?"</p>
Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds<p><strong>When</strong><strong>: </strong>May 19, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register</strong><strong>: </strong>Early bird registration is $49 and general admission is $149</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://hopin.com/events/may-virtual-conference-diversity-how-employers-can-match-words-with-deeds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here</a></p><p>From Day One is hosting monthly conferences in 2021 focused on different ways for companies to foster strong relationships with their customers, communities, and employees. May's half-day virtual event is focused specifically on how companies can make diversity promises that don't fall flat and features workshops, panels, and a fireside chat.</p>
Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> September 26-29, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Was $799 for regular access to the virtual conference in 2020; 2021 pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://ghc.anitab.org/attend/registration/" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>Grace Hopper might be the best-known conference for women in tech. Through keynote presentations, networking sessions, job fairs, and community-building activities, vGHC reached over 30,000 women for their 2020 conference and are expecting even more in 2021! While not a conference focused exclusively on diversity and inclusion, many speakers plan to focus their talks on creating environments for women to thrive in the male-dominated tech field.</p>
Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> October 25-27, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual and in person in Austin, Texas as of now</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://conferences.shrm.org/inclusion" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>The Society for Human Resource Management's biggest conference of the year saw 1,200 DEI leaders participate last year; SHRM hopes to see even more come to learn, be inspired, and to walk away with a playbook of implementable strategies to create truly inclusive workplace cultures.</p>
AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
A Conversation with Vouch's Lead Designer Carrie Phillips