3 Ways Corporations Responded to COVID-19 and Built Resilience
Here are three lessons corporate leaders learned about building better companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Air Date: July 27, 2021
Moderator: Brig. Gen. Pete Fesler, Deputy Director of Operations, Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command, Peterson Air Force Base
Featured Guests: Justin Land, Program Director, Global Citizenship, DOW, Scotty Blankenship, Senior Director, Procurement, Tyson Foods, Inc., Claudine Zukowski, Director, Children's Safe Drinking Water Program, Procter & Gamble
The disruptions caused by the pandemic forced every leader to reflect on how corporations should respond to disasters. Leaders had to both ensure the safety of their employees and customers as well as operate their business as closely as they could under normal circumstances. This taught many leaders how to be resilient in the face of disaster and implement learned lessons for future success.
At the 10th Annual Building Resilience Through Private-Public Partnerships conference, three leaders of large corporations shared insights about building a corporate response in the face of emergencies.
Companies Need to Assess Their Supply Chain, Inventory, and Distribution in the Face of Disruption
At the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 quickly shut down several levels of supply, inventory, and distribution for businesses. This left companies like Tyson Foods scrambling to try and find ways to get their production operating regularly. Initially, this proved complicated and challenging.
However, now that they’ve created solutions, Scotty Blankenship, Tyson Foods’ senior director of procurement, believes the company will be more efficient and better prepared in the face of new challenges.
“This past year, not long after we were just beginning to recover from COVID, we had Winter Storm Uri that hit Texas and definitely impacted our supply chain in a big way,” said Blankenship. “But we had already had some very significant learnings from COVID about moving to various other suppliers, looking at the global supply chain. We had found various ways to move goods across the country, and we applied those.”
Communication Is Essential in Building Corporate Resilience
One of the most important things Claudine Zukowski, the global disaster relief coordinator for Procter & Gamble, learned during the pandemic was the importance of communication. COVID-19 not only presented a challenge to every industry, but it physically separated everyone, causing them to work remotely and not address new challenges face-to-face. Zukowski found that a combination of openness and agility helped her and her team move forward.
“The whole way through, it was very clear what everybody was working towards and what our priorities were in communication, and clarity of communication ... with our employees,” said Zukowski. “We had an incredible group that was continually keeping everybody updated on what was going on, what the company could do, and how we were supporting communities around us.”
“Agility is the key word,” she continued. “Being able to adapt to situations [like] not being able to be in the same room with people and yet needing to be connected globally with other parts of other countries and partners around the world.”
Corporations Need to Prioritize Employee Well-Being and Mental Health
Corporations cannot succeed without supporting their employees. During the pandemic, businesses needed to ensure that their workforce would be safe and healthy so they would not get infected or spread the virus to patrons or each other.
The added stress of a pandemic also took a toll on an employee's mental wellbeing. Justin Land, program director of global citizenship for Dow, recognized this struggle and implemented employee-centric solutions in Dow’s practices.
“Over the past months, there's been much greater emphasis on the well-being side of things and really making sure that employees are taken care of,” said Land. “It goes back to the muscle memory of how you connect with employees on a day-to-day basis. At Dow, we've invested a lot in communication and transparency around our return-to-work playbook and also on the well-being side.”