Coronavirus Hub

Great jobs and a sustainable economy, powered by responsible businesses

Josh Hardie, Deputy Director-General, CBI

“The pandemic has shown that when faced with a crisis, business, government and communities can mobilise quickly to provide mutual support and find common solutions. This momentum must continue to help flatten the daunting curve of unemployment, protect our planet, and lessen the potential scarring impact of the pandemic for the next generation. 

“When it comes to building back better, business has an important role to play. We know that the road ahead won’t be easy – but we’re calling on firms everywhere to do whatever they can, taking actions big or small, across four key areas, to ensure that business continues to be a force for positive change.” 

Take action today across four priority areas

Address the impacts of unemployment 

No business makes the decision to let go of jobs lightly – and the reality is that many will need to make difficult choices in order to survive. But businesses can take steps to limit the negative impact of tough decisions made now. Taking action will not only protect vulnerable workers and the next generation, but could improve the pipeline of talent and key skills businesses will need to thrive. 

Practical actions your business can take: 

Build workplaces where anyone can belong and progress 

The pandemic has changed how work gets done forever – in many cases for the better. Flexible working has accelerated. Mental health is a priority. But it has also exacerbated structural inequalities, from the burden of caring responsibilities through to the disproportionate impact of the virus on ethnic minorities. Businesses need to take visible action in order to build trust and confidence, and they’ll need to bring employees with them on the change journey. 

Practical actions your business can take: 

  • Establish flexible working as the norm wherever possible, and build managers’ confidence to manage teams that work in the office and at home 
  • Survey and regularly touch base with employees to check in on their mental health and wellbeing. Have a clear mental health action plan that lets staff know where they can get support 
  • Sign up to the CBI’s Change the Race Ratio campaign to increase the representation of ethnic minorities at the top of business 
  • Demonstrate commitment to diverse and inclusive workplaces by measuring, reporting on and reducing genderethnicity and disability pay gaps.

Protect the planet  

Recent polling from Ipsos Mori shows that two-thirds of Britons (66%) believe climate change is as serious as Coronavirus and the majority (55%) want climate prioritised in economic recovery. Businesses should fast-track green investment wherever possible and make progress towards net-zero emissions to tackle the climate and environmental emergency. 

Practical actions your business can take: 

  • Measure your carbon footprint (using science-based targets, RE100 and/or EV100) with a view to adopt an ambitious solution to mitigate your impact on the environment 
  • Educate your employees, customers and supply chains on your mitigation targets and on tactics they can use to reduce their own environmental impact 
  • Provide training opportunities for employees in skills we know are set to increase in demand, preparing for growth in low-carbon, green and digital jobs 
  • Use private investment founded on sustainable finance principles to help achieve social goals such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Play fair 

Expectations of businesses are increasing. Our research shows that the public want to buy from and work for companies with a purpose and values that align to their own.  Any business in receipt of significant financial support must be exceptionally mindful of its practices, and strive to make sustainable, fair and balanced decisions.  

Practical actions your business can take: 

Be inspired by business heroes

Businesses of all sizes and sectors stepped up in incredibly challenging conditions, not only to keep the wheels of daily life spinning, but to support their communities, employees, customers and supply chains. The CBI is proud to share their stories.

  • Supporting communities

    • Cardiff and Vale College have made their premises a hub for local distribution of PPE equipment 
    • PZ Cussons supplied handwash and hand sanitiser for free to Manchester schools, Age UK centres and charities supporting the homeless.
  • Supporting the national effort

    • Jaguar Land Rover made a fleet of vehicles available to the Red Cross as part of its efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic 
    • Companies including Estee Lauder and L’Oreal used their manufacturing centres and distilleries to produce hand sanitiser for the NHS and others.
  • Supporting employees

    • In the North West, T J Morris has created a £30million Coronavirus Fund to financially support staff and help them avoid financial hardship
    • Pernod Ricard partnered with The Wine and Spirits Education Trust to offer a free online qualification to hospitality staff to help with skills development.
  • Supporting customers

    • Smart meter engineers at EDF worked with Boots to deliver medicine to vulnerable customers 
    • Supermarkets including Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s reserved specific shopping hours for vulnerable customers and key workers.
  • Supporting other businesses

    • The Freight Trade Association's #LogisticsHelpsLogistics campaign matched organisations needing to fill roles like drivers and warehouse operators
    • The Construction Industry Training Board suspended its 2020 Levy by three months to provide financial relief to construction firms.

How businesses rose to the challenge together

At the onset of the pandemic, we asked businesses to come together to help make a difference for society. Find out how what we achieved across three core challenges:

  • Redeploying people: How could low and high demand sectors work together to keep people employed and key services running?

  • Support mental health: How could firms support people to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing?

  • Help families in hardship: Could business provide food / logistical / IT support for families facing financial hardship?