Danone’s CEO Emmanuel Faber calls on businesses to use Covid-19 as catalyst for inclusive growth … and how B4IG companies are investing €38bn right now

May 5, 2020

The Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) coalition was launched in 2019, led by Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone, and supported by OECD. Today, 38 multinationals have signed the B4IG Pledge with a common goal: fighting against inequalities. B4IG’s work is focused on advancing human rights in company value chains, building inclusive workplaces and strengthening inclusion in companies business ecosystems.

Faber says to business needs to “rethink economic models, curbing the inequalities that have been rising for decades, and magnified by crisis”.

Covid-19 as a catalyst for “Inclusive Growth”

The OECD’s analyses confirm that the global health crisis comes with unprecedented financial, economic and social repercussions in the 21st century. COVID-19 is a crisis taking a toll on human lives, but it has also sparked the largest financial, economic and social crisis that many people will see in their lifetimes. With the evidence of broadening inequalities, the OECD is urging governments and businesses, in confronting the health crisis and its economic fallout, to make choices that enable individuals, families, and communities not only to regain health, but to emerge from the crisis onto solid economic and social ground. For the first time, people are looking almost equally at government (63%) and business (62%) to act, according to the 2020 Edelman Spring Trust Barometer. B4IG members are responding to this call, both through concrete actions and by calling on the public and private sectors to embrace steps towards an inclusive recovery.

€38bn euros of business support

The context of this major crisis gives B4IG even more relevance and meaning. In response, B4IG companies have dedicated over €38bn euros in relief plans or support of their employees, communities, clients and suppliers.

In cooperation with governments, banks in the B4IG coalition will support financial relief efforts for more than €35bn. Other B4IG companies committed €1.9 bn to support their ecosystem of consumers and suppliers. They spent more than €885m in donations since the start of the outbreak and provided medical protective equipment up to 120 million units.

These contributions supported actions corresponding to the coalition’s commitments and echo the priority needs identified by OECD member states to promote a people-centered response to the crisis:

  • Donations (funds or products): €885 million
  • Companies financial commitments to their ecosystem: €1.9 billion
  • Financial institutions funds made available in relief efforts: €35.5 billion
  • Units of Protective & medical equipment: 120 million units

Examples of Covid-19 initiatives 

  • Providing essential financial assistance, loans and liquidity to vulnerable businesses, clients and suppliers. Financial institutions are very active: Goldman Sachs provided more than €460m as emergency loans to small businesses, Legal & General €297m in pension de-risking transfers. In Italy, its second domestic market, Credit Agricole rolled out a €10bn relief programme made of business loans, treasury facilities, and a moratorium on loan payments for SMEs and retail banking customers. In the food industry, €300m has been made available by Danone to support 15,000 of its small and medium business partners.
  • Providing direct assistance to vulnerable groups to cope with the social and economic crisis by providing food or essential goods and services. For example, Unilever is providing soap and hand sanitizer worth €50m to the COVID Action Platform of the World Economic Forum, as well as another €50m for campaigns, education and products to support handwashing through associations and partners. Sodexo continues to provide students access to food by distributing 300,000 meals a day.
  • Helping to overcome the health crisis by funding healthcare centers, hospitals or research institutes working to find a cure or treatment, providing emergency medical supplies and other critical health- related essentials. For example, Johnson & Johnson has announced a lead vaccine candidate for COVID- 19 and has committed to supply one billion vaccines worldwide for emergency pandemic use.
  • Supporting employees’ earnings and jobs through securing wages during the crisis, appropriate re- arrangements of work schedules together with relevant public interventions. For example, to help put people back to work quickly in areas of new opportunity, Accenture created a virtual B2B initiative to connect companies that urgently need people with those that have people available.
  • Ensuring the continuity of supply and provisions of essentials – such as water, food and energy. For example, Engie has refunded low-income families for 2 months of energy fees, reaching 600,000 households.

Emmanuel Faber, Danone CEO and chairman of B4IG Board “At the time we launched this coalition last August, no one could imagine we’ll be facing a situation such as the Covid-19. With this sanitary crisis comes the economic one and if we are not collectively softening its effects, an unprecedented social crisis will follow. The role of the private sector in responding to this crisis and driving an inclusive and green recovery is fundamental. But no company can face global issues alone. Collaboration has never been as critical. The members of B4IG have shown real leadership to date; I am convinced that by working together and with governments, we can go much further. We must capitalize on this moment to build the companies – and societies – of the future.”

Examples of B4IG projects in companies

Accenture – Work+People Project : A B2B project to connect companies who have experienced layoffs with thosehavingsurgingdemand. WithunemploymentsurpassingrecordhighsasaresultofCOVID-19,Accenture created People + Work Connect in just 14 business days to enable companies, at no cost, to connect directly and review their workforce needs together. The effort, geared towards both sides of the jobs equation, allows companies to rapidly share the locations and skills of their laid-off or furloughed workforces, and connect with other companies that are rapidly hiring to meet demand. At zero cost for employers to join and participate, the initiative is designed to shorten the complex, lengthy cycle of unemployment.

Designed by CHROs from Accenture, Lincoln Financial Group, ServiceNow and Verizon, People + Work Connect is powered by an analytics-driven B2B platform built by Accenture. Global and cross-industry, it pools non- confidential and aggregated workforce information by categories such as location and experience. It enables companies to see talent needs across a country, providing a city-by-city view into the demand for talent—for example, what companies that are hiring are looking for, and what types of jobs they have available and when. Employers can also dig deeper to filter by industries, the amount of job experience required, job titles and who to contact to ensure direct facilitations and smooth transitions of workforces. In the UK, our pro bono support helped migrate the entire National Health Service to Microsoft Teams—enabling virtual, real-time communications for 1.2 million healthcare professionals—in just one week.

Julie Sweet, Accenture CEO “The success of this program is the shared success of all companies who are participating and the incredible organizations and associations who are helping us rapidly scale participation. This program is about leaders who are committed to only two outcomes, putting people back to work and helping companies, and eventually governments, who need to hire people to provide the essential services on which we all rely.”

AXA – Telemedicine : Rapid access to doctors for all, everywhere, while respecting the rules of social distancing. Facing Covid19, AXA has expanded its telemedicine service to provide broader access notably in France, Belgium, Italy. Telemedecine has ensured a quick and reliable diagnosis when the emergency services in hospital were saturated and city doctors not prepared to receive highly contagious patient. AXA is also deploying this service for emerging customers (low income to mass market segments in emerging countries), who are the more vulnerable in this crisis (first to lose revenues, with difficult access to care networks and medical treatment). Often bundled with simple and affordable insurance products, the solutions include access to Covid19 symptom checker and free teleconsultation with certified doctors, to reach 1 million people. Already deployed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, The Philippines, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, similar initiatives are being prepared for India and Egypt. This is a response to covid 19 but beyond the sanitary crisis, it is a way to provide to these vulnerable populations, with difficult access to health, accurate medical information and treatment in the long term.

Thomas Buberl , AXA CEO “The covid19 crisis is exacerbating inequalities and making our collective effort within the B4IG coalition even more relevant. Inclusiveness will be essential to rebuild a more resilient and fairer post-covid economy. Customers, employees, suppliers, partners… protecting our most vulnerable stakeholders by securing access to affordable basics products and services matters more than ever when confronted to such a socio-economic shock. In particular, insurance plays a key role in providing a safety net for the communities around the world. ”

BASF – “Helping Hands” Initiative. To help overcome the pandemic, BASF has launched the “Helping Hands” initiative. At selected sites across the world, we are producing around 175,000 liters of disinfectants per week which are distributed free of charge to hospitals and other public healthcare facilities. In addition, BASF provides protective equipment and financial support. In Germany, BASF has donated more than 100 million protectivemasks to the Federal Government. All in all, BASF is committing approximately €100 million worldwide to fighting the pandemic.

Martin Brudermüller, CEO “In August 2019, we pledged to play our part in the fight for a more inclusive economy. Today, with countries and societies all around the world being confronted with unprecedented challenges, we want to play our part, too, and help fight this pandemic. We do not only ensure that our 120,000 employees work under safe conditions, we support the societies we operate in as a responsible company. We have bundled our contribution in the “Helping Hands” initiative. In addition to many local BASF activities worldwide, we donated more than 100 million protective masks to the Federal Republic of Germany. Globally, we currently produce around 175,000 liters of hand sanitizer per week free of charge for hospitals and other public healthcare facilities. For us, this is a matter of solidarity. »

Caisse des Dépôts – Supporting strategic sectors – especially those that are key in making sure we can fight off large-scale pandemics – by strengthening the resources invested in specific market funds. CDC is setting up and investing alongside major insurance companies close to €2bn, in an equity and debt investment package targeting strategic small and mid-cap companies, through the Novi-Novo-Nova funds and through new funds dedicated to the health sector.

Eric Lombard, Caisse des Dépôts Group (CDC Group) CEO : “ CDC Group is fully mobilized to support the French economy, in line with the measures taken by the government to limit as much as possible the social and economic impacts of the current health crisis. By lending support to the real economy, notably through the State-guaranteed lending scheme operated by our joint-venture with the State Bpifrance, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that French companies come out of this crisis as unscathed as possible. Support is also needed at social level : in the early stages of the crisis, CDC provided an additional €20bn liquidity support to secure the funds of French social security organizations as they are undergoing a fall in social contributions due to the contraction of economic activities. Some of our main subsidiaries have remained active throughout the pandemic to deliver essential public services on a daily basis : mail delivery (La Poste), electricity supply (French electricity transport system operator, RTE) or local public transport (Transdev).”

Crédit Agricole SA – Engagements to society, corporates and personal customers. Credit Agricole is supporting society through €70m in donations to solidarity funds including a €20m solidarity fund for the protection of seniors, creation of a solidarity fund in Morocco and a donation to the Red Cross in Italy.
Crédit Agricole has deployed financial facilities comprising new loans (including State-Guaranteed), deferrals, moratorium and insurance, for more than €33bn, including funding in connection with public authorities including deferrals on 335,000 loans representing €3.4bn and a €10bn programme in Italy for loans and moratorium on loan payments. To personal customers there is an option to defer or shift maturities with no special attention paid to most vulnerable customers.

Credit Agricole Philippe Brassac, Chief Executive Officer of Crédit Agricole S.A., said : « Faced with this unpredictable global health crisis, it is our responsibility to protect not only the people but also the economic and social fabric of our society. In addition to its support to the economy, Crédit Agricole has reaffirmed its societal commitment, which underpins its raison d’être: “Working every day in the interest of our customers and society”. In total, more than €70 million were donated via solidarity funds to healthcare workers, elderly people and other vulnerable populations as well as research. In support of our customers, the Group is mobilising its human and financial resources for SMEs, small businesses, farmers as well as individuals. For example, a €210-million cooperative support mechanism has been set up to help professionals facing business interruption. All of these measures demonstrate the Group’s commitment to helping society weather the crisis.”

Danone – Supporting vulnerable business ecosystem : Danone is supporting small and medium sized companies in its ecosystem that are experiencing a direct impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Danone’s objective is to maintain strong relationships with their suppliers and help them overcome this unprecedented crisis. Danone committed to a financial support of EUR 300M , financed by its cash flow, to the 15,000 small businesses in its global ecosystem (farmers, suppliers, service providers), to the entrepreneurs of Danone Manifesto Ventures’ portfolio, and to the communities of Danone Ecosystem.

Edelman – To help companies and organizations better understand current best practices for communications, Edelman set out to learn where people were getting their information, how much they believed it, and their expectations for business. The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report. Edelman formed a COVID-19 advisory team supporting businesses and organizations and they are also providing solutions that can help minimize the impact of COVID-19.

“This is now a moment of reckoning for business, which must deliver on the promise and viability of a stakeholder approach to capitalism,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman. “We must use the Return to Work as a moment of responsibility and implement the appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers, the inclusion of small business in supply chain and the retraining of workers.”

Goldman Sachs – Small Business Resources – Goldman Sachs is marshalling our resources to support small businesses struggling with the economic fallout of COVID-19. As part of Goldman Sachs’ Global Small Business Stimulus Package we have committed $500 million to provide emergency loans to small businesses deployed by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions, and other mission- driven lenders. Goldman will also provide $25 million in grants to CDFIs and other mission-driven lenders to ensure they have the necessary capacity to underwrite and deliver loans to small businesses as soon as possible

GINGroup: Donations to support front line workers in Mexico. GINgroup made a donation in kind of surgical uniforms to the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER) for one of the hospitals indicated by the Federal Government for case care by COVID-19 .

Raúl Beyruti, Gingroup CEO : “Gingroup’s most important objective is to detect, develop and retain talent. This is possible with living wages and inclusive jobs. In the face of the health, economic and social crisis, we are even more committed to achieving the most vulnerable sectors, obtaining a living wage through training and teamwork with governments and academia. Digitization will play a key role in achieving successful businesses and happy workers. We have to invest in the education of the most disadvantaged, but what we do together the world of our children we have no opportunities. The B4IG initiative is a great example of how the private sector, governments and civil society must reinvent ourselves and work together for the benefit of all. Our actions will be those that define the world that received our children. Let’s fight for an inclusive ecosystem.”

Henkel – A comprehensive global solidarity program to support employees, customers and affected communities facing the global COVID-19 pandemic. The program consists of a donation of 2 million euros to different funds and organizations, of which one million euros will be donated directly to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund launched by the WHO and the United Nations Foundation. Henkel will also donate 5 million units of personal and household hygiene products globally, and has converted a production facility within just one week to produce hand disinfectants to be donated to hospitals and public institutions. Since the onset of the crisis, Henkel has addressed the situation proactively through its crisis management teams. The primary objective is to do everything possible to ensure the safety of employees, customers and business partners and to maintain operations under these challenging circumstances.

Carsten Knobel, Chief Executive Officer of Henkel. “At Henkel, we are committed to help addressing this unprecedented challenge. We stand united in our fight against the pandemic, striving to protect our employees and their jobs, serving our customers and supporting the communities in which we operate. In line with our values, we have launched a comprehensive global solidarity program. This includes financial and product donations to international and local organizations as well as specific support initiatives for our communities, customers and business partners.”

Johnson & Johnson – Partnership to develop a not-for-profit vaccine. – Johnson & Johnson has announced investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate and preparation for vaccine production. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson Co-Founds the Pandemic Action Network alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to ignite a global movement to help accelerate an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance our preparedness to stop future pandemics.

 JPMorgan Chase has made an initial $200 million global business and philanthropic commitment to support vulnerable and underrepresented communities, existing nonprofit partners and underserved small businesses. This includes low-cost capital to help underserved small businesses and nonprofits and $50 million in philanthropic capital to help address the immediate humanitarian crisis, as well as the long-term economic challenges facing the most vulnerable people and communities.

JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon “This crisis is exacerbating the challenges facing the most vulnerable in society. At times like this, it is even more important that business, government and community leaders work together on solutions that help provide immediate relief to those hit hardest by the pandemic and ensure the recovery is inclusive,” said JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon.

Kering – The Balenciaga and Saint Laurent Houses have reorganized their workshops to produce 15,000 surgical masks a week. These are distributed to medical staff in Paris hospitals.

Keurig Dr Pepper – Keurig Dr Pepper has taken extraordinary steps to keep its employees safe and healthy, deliver for its customers and consumers and provide for its communities during this unprecedented time. The Company’s Fueling the Frontline initiative has outfitted thousands of break rooms in more than 350 hospitals with the donation of Keurig brewers and a total of over two million cups of coffee and other beverages for healthcare workers in need. The Company also recognized its own frontline employees, who continue to make, distribute and restock retail shelves, with financial incentives and enhanced benefits, as well as a free Keurig brewer and coffee as a gesture of appreciation for their dedication during this crisis. In addition, the Company enabled its office employees to gift a Keurig brewer and coffee to an essential worker of their choosing. In otherrelief efforts, Keurig Dr Pepper donated $250,000 to the National Restaurant Associations’ Employee Relief Fund to provide cash grants to U.S. restaurant workers financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and 5,000 meals to the Together Without Hunger campaign – a Panera, Feeding America and DKMS initiative.

L’Oréal – Supporting needs of healthcare and businesses ecosystem through operations: Production and delivery of hydro-alcoholic gels (more than 40M units) to support the needs of health authorities worldwide. The Group also offered expertise to authorities to help source medical supplies. L’Oréal is also working actively to support its suppliers, especially the hard-hit ones. In particular, the group has shortened the payment delays of 9 000 suppliers and froze the payments of 100 000 clients (hair salons, small perfume shops) until their businesses resume.

Jean-Paul Agon L’Oréal CEO “In this unprecedented context, L’Oréal’s absolute priority has been to ensure the health of its employees worldwide and maintain jobs and salaries for all L’Oréal employees worldwide. The Group has also been providing support to health authorities and has taken a large numberofsolidaritymeasuresforitscustomersandpartnerstohelp ineverypossibleway.Assuch,the multifaceted solidarity programme that we implemented all over the world included both sanitary, economic and corporate citizenship measures. In particular, the prompt turnover of 70% of our plants allowed for the production and delivery of more than 40M units of hydro-alcoholic gels; but we also shortened the payment delays of 9 000 suppliers and froze the debt of 100 000 clients; offered our expertise to authorities to help source medical supplies, and finally partnered with non-profit organizations, to help the most vulnerable members of society now more than ever. Through these actions, L’Oréal wanted to express its recognition, support and solidarity towards those who are demonstrating extraordinary courage and selflessness in their efforts to combat this pandemic.”

Mars – is providing cash and in-kind donation of $20 million to support the people, pets and communities most affected by COVID-19. This includes, a $5 million donation to support CARE for critical supplies and expertise that will be deployed in the developing world, to women, children and refugee populations; $2 million donation to the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) to aid in the transport and delivery of critical supplies for all United Nations agencies as they respond to the pandemic; and $1 million donation to Humane Society International (HSI) to help cats and dogs that have been abandoned, left behind or surrendered to shelters due to their owners falling ill or no longer having the financial means to care for them.

Ricoh – Ricoh has designed new face shields with improved comfort and which offer a re-usable solution to reduce costs. They are producing more than 40,000 a week for health workers in the UK and Japan and are also supporting production in Italy, New Zealand, Guatemala and Argentina.

Jake Yamashita, President and CEO of Ricoh “ Looking at the numbers of people working from home or holding meetings remotely demonstrates how coronavirus has accelerated a shift to new ways of working. This shift is also supporting increased diversity in the workforce as many can now fulfil their roles from anywhere. Ricoh, as a digital services company, is supporting organizations of all sizes to make this transition seamless, including over 2,300 small and medium business customers for the last three months in Japan, whilst ensuring we play a positive role in society.

Schneider Electric – Tomorrow Rising Fund : A fund dedicated to emergency and longer-term reconstruction actions related to crisis recovery in the territories where Schneider Electric operates. Through initiative and dedication, Schneider Electric is working with customers, partners and its communities to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the way people live and work. The Schneider Electric Foundation, and specifically the Tomorrow Rising Fund, will respond to emergency today for affected communities all over the world, and support recovery tomorrow for education and professional training of vulnerable youth. Schneider donates time, knowledge and funds to support those most impacted as economic activity slows down. Today, 57 countries where Schneider Electric operates have contributed to these actions through 37 projects, with an impact on 265,000 people, thanks to the commitment of Schneider Electric Country Presidents and the network of the Foundation Delegates.

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Schneider Electric CEO, “We need to learn from this crisis. About both the value of digital to bring greater resilience, and the importance of trust. We have founded the Tomorrow Rising Fund to support communities around us, business and non business, and to prepare a more resilient future with clean technology.”

Sodexo – Employee Support Programme – Sodexo established a global Sodexo Employee Relief Program for its employees facing layoffs due to site closures. This €30 million global program is being administered locally according to the specific needs of each country and support provided will depend on various factors, including the existence of government social protection programs. It is being funded by the senior executives and the company as follows: Sodexo Chairwoman Sophie Bellon and CEO Denis Machuel waive 50% of their fixed remuneration and the top 200 Senior Executives including the CEO give up on their variable remuneration.

Unilever – Helping to protect lives and livelihoods from the Covid-19 pandemic. Unilever contributes more than €100m to continue helping people affected around the world. The company’s actions are designed to help protect the lives and livelihoods of its multiple stakeholders – including its consumers and communities, its customers and suppliers, and its workforce.

Alan Jope, Unilever CEO “The world is facing its greatest trial in decades. Unilever’s actions are guided by our multi-stakeholder model and are designed to protect lives and safeguard livelihoods. Together with other B4IG companies, we want to drive solutions that mitigate the impact of the pandemic, and also help to create a more equal and sustainable future for all.