The ‘meeting’ started with the moderator fixing his hair, the second participant sanitizing her hands and the third checking his microphone. It could have been a normal online work meeting, but for one difference.
The call was between actors Ben Stiller and Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini, all of whom are Goodwill Ambassadors for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Whilst light-hearted in tone, the message – about what the private sector can do to support refugees during this global health crisis – was serious.
“OK. Great. Hope you are all feeling good today. It’s such a weird weird time,” said Stiller, when everyone was in place.
COVID-19 has impacted millions of people but refugees are amongst the most vulnerable. Many live in overcrowded camps and lack access to soap and water. To support them, UNHCR is delivering front line protection and working against the clock to prevent the spread of the virus, but they can’t do it alone.
In the meeting, the three explained the three ways that companies can help.
"Employees expect companies to provide direction and inspiration."
Blanchett got the ball rolling, describing how companies can get their staff involved through employee giving programs and other engagement tools.
“In these difficult times employees expect companies to provide direction and inspiration and support to the community,” said actor Blanchett.
Next up was author Hosseini, who said companies could use their communications channels, social media platforms and advertising space to share useful information about COVID-19 and spread messages of solidarity with refugees.
Stiller cut to the chase with point number three: “Donations! Businesses can provide vital support by giving funds and in-kind donations. This contribution will provide lifesaving assistance – medical care, hygiene supplies and shelter to help protect those forced to flee.”
Many companies have already stepped up their support for refugees during the crisis.
Microsoft has set up an employee campaign to raise awareness and ask for donations towards UNHCR’s COVID-19 emergency response. Microsoft will be matching all donations in the US.
Sony Corporation has donated US$ 3 million through the Sony Global Relief Fund for COVID-19.
WeTransfer and H&M Group have opened up their communication channels to UNHCR to help share important messages of support, kindness and solidarity to their millions of customers and followers.
But more can be done. If you want to know more about how your company can support UNHCR in its efforts to protect refugees from the threat of COVID-19, please click here.