As the US stretches to nearly a full month of a pandemic-related economic shutdown, the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits has reached more than 26 million. Lines at food banks recall images captured during the Great Depression. Today’s pictures are in color and depict expanses of cars or casually dressed people donning masks.
Among these grim images and disheartening statistics, however, optimism shines through. Stories of organizations and innovators choosing to do the right thing in the hardest time provide hope.
In early April 2020, larger financial institutions including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup, vowed to hold off on making layoffs. Even smaller organizations are committing to keep staff on. Not surprisingly if you’re familiar with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), plenty of these organizations are led by EO members.
The Launch of a Global Initiative
In April 2020, Alex Yastrebenetsky and fellow leaders at his organization, InfoTrust, decided to launch a No Layoff Pledge which will last through 1 July 2020. A member of the EO Cincinnati chapter, Alex explains, “We stick by our employees, their families and the communities in which they live and work—in the good times and the tough times.”
No furloughs and no layoffs, through one of the greatest economic downturn in US history? Stop for a moment and consider the impact, starting with one employee. One employee who can afford rent, who can assume the financial burden and allow another parent to stay home with kids, who continues shopping at the local grocery store or even buying a daily coffee—from a safe distance—at the locally owned café. The effects amplify.
But Alex decided to take his idea even further, encouraging other business owners to make the same pledge. “We, as entrepreneurs, are hearing about layoffs from everywhere. It’s up to us to set an example of a different way. We need to create a peer group of people committing to not laying off employees and support each other through these crazy times.”
The No Layoff Pledge has gone viral, spreading from tech companies in the US Midwest to businesses in Canada, Pakistan and Nigeria. At last count, there are 50 CEOs who have committed to the pledge and Alex is aiming for 100 by 1 May 2020.
Kristin Mclane says the decision may have been easier for her than other CEOs. “We’ve been in business 24 years. You can imagine that we have survived a number of downturns. Our employees have stood by us the whole way, so I felt compelled to assure them that it would be okay, that we would have their back,” explains the EO member.
She goes on to share, “After we made the announcement, our newest employee posted his gratitude to LinkedIn, saying ‘I couldn’t be more proud to work for someone who works so hard for their employees. They took a chance on a recently separated veteran and I’m honestly blessed to work for them.’ That’s all I needed to know that I had made the right decision.”
Hussain Ahmad Fazal, an EO Lahore member and director at the Hussain Group, explains his choice to join the pledge, saying “We’re trying hard to keep people. Money can come and go, but humanity is a bigger thing.”
The Opportunity to Do the Right Thing
During these unprecedented times, entrepreneurs are taking extraordinary opportunities to practice caring capitalism. Whether it’s a commitment to keep staff, an offer of free services, or the launch of a program to deliver PPEs, the very best of today’s founders and innovators make choices to show up with solutions and support, and not simply sit on the sidelines.
How can you make an impact today? Will you join the No Layoff Pledge?