This week, the current government shutdown officially became the longest on record. With negotiations at a standstill and no clear end in sight, the implications for the 800,000 government workers impacted (not including contract workers) are beginning to set in. To help furloughed workers, grassroots efforts are catching on – more than 1,500 crowdfunding campaigns have been initiated, and we’ve seen pop-up food pantries, potlucks and even garage sales crop up. As the heated political debate rages on, companies have joined the conversation through bold announcements or relief to workers – here’s a snapshot of what we’ve seen:
· Assistance to Employees: Many companies are focusing on providing immediate relief directly to furloughed employees. Sweetgreen offered free meals over the weekend to anyone with a Federal government ID, while companies such as T-Mobile, Sprint, Chase, Geico and others are offering waived late fees, flexible billing options or counseling to affected individuals. Airbnb is even providing direct financial support by giving federal executive branch employee hosts up to $110 extra for each Experience or three night booking between December 18, 2018 and March 18, 2019.
· Support for Our Parks: With major impacts to our national parks, including vandalism and littering due to the shutdown, companies are jumping in to help. Burt’s Bees has committed to a $50,000 donation to National Parks Foundation, while Nestle Waters is “mobilizing volunteers and local affiliates to clean up national parks,” reports David Hessekiel, founder of Engage for Good. Meanwhile, Xanterra Parks and Resorts is investing in grooming snow-covered roads to keep access to Yellowstone National Park possible.
· Bold Messages Directly to Government: Columbia Sportswear went big to send a message directly to congress and the President. The outdoor brand spent $80,000 last week on a full-page ad in Friday’s Washington Post. The ad, signed by CEO Tim Boyle, stated “Walls shouldn’t block access to parks, and federal workers shouldn’t be left out in the cold. Work together to open our parks.”
Although the reasons for the shutdown remains a highly debated and contentious issue, helping the people impacted by the shutdown is something we can all come together on, regardless of political affiliation. And even if this support many not align with a company’s CSR pillars or ladder up to a bold goal, here we see companies lending support simply because it’s needed – perhaps even without an agenda.