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What companies can learn from the crisis

Today is the Day of Social Justice. A day that makes us reflect, especially after a year of pandemic in Germany. Not only is this pandemic taking a toll on us, but it's also exacerbating problems that already existed before the pandemic. And it's doing so worldwide, according to a study by Oxfam Germany, aptly titled "The Inequality Virus." In the Global South, the Coronavirus Pandemic worsens already existing famines; and at the very latest when it comes to the distribution of available vaccines, the inequality becomes clearly visible.

Also Germany is not immune to this development.

Here, too, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, fueled by the consequences of the pandemic on the labor market, among other factors. Around 50% of low-income earners, whose wages were already below €900/month before the pandemic, have lost some income. Studies even assume a loss of 25% of their income.

Employees with higher wages, on the other hand, are much less affected. It is easy to calculate that these shortcomings are not corrected simply by short-term compensation alone. Understandably, the losses hit all the more when wages are low, especially if this leads to worries about having enough money for rent or even enough food.

Indeed, there is hardly any relief in sight in other areas of life: rents continue to rise, and in many places public transport fares are increasing. So while the fortunes of the richest in Germany are rising despite Pandemic, low-income earners are hit hardest by the effects of it.

It's not just financially that the Coronavirus Pandemic continues to fuel inequality.

Let's take the example of gender equality: The past year has reinforced old role models again, with women stepping in much more frequently when childcare is no longer assured. And when it comes to education, it is becoming more and more apparent that equality of opportunity cannot withstand the restrictions in the education sector. This is not just about technical means for digital learning, but also about which parents have the possibility of home office at all as well as being able to provide learning support. You can can be found here:.

Unfortunately, the list of challenges we face as a society could go on and on. However, what is already apparent now: We need a transformation.

Change is needed

The developments are alarming, and so we readily join Oxfam's conclusion and say "We need basic social services equally accessible to all, not subjected to a profit logic. Businesses need to be democratic and oriented toward the common good so that their actions serve everyone. And we need to create diverse and permeable market structures so that power is not accumulated by individual corporations."

While some of the companies themselves have been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic, others are seeing an increase in profits. Society's call for companies to take responsibility was already well audible a year ago and has now gained volume. In this context, we at WeShape are naturally interested in how the past year has affected donations and CSR. Because help is needed more than ever before.

Donations during the pandemic

According to a DZI report from October 2020, large organizations saw an increase in donations during the first half of 2020. Smaller organizations, on the other hand, recorded a decrease in 38% of cases. With regard to Germany, this is therefore a worrying conclusion because small and medium-sized organizations make up a large proportion of nonprofits here.

Figures on the initial phase of the pandemic from also show that companies certainly showed solidarity during the crisis, with corporate donations increasing significantly in the first quarter. So all in all, the bottom line is positive as far as donations are concerned. The willingness to contributeis still there, at least in terms of volume. Tendency increasing.

Rising demand, especially in times of crisis

We should not forget that the demand is nevertheless increasing.And not just in terms of financial support, but also in the area of volunteering. Because especially where older people made up a large part of the helpers, the need for new support is large. Moreover, as many employees had to experience during the crisis, fair and just treatment within the company is more necessary than ever. Companies that show flexibility and understanding will benefit in the long run.

A wake-up call as an opportunity for companies?

It is clearer than ever that we need a change and that Corona was a wake-up call. Companies can also see this warning as an opportunity to prepare themselves for the future:

What are the corporate values they want to stand for in the future? How can sustainable supply chains be introduced? How should the treatment of personnel and social engagement outside the company be designed?

Big issues require community

These are BIG issues, we are well aware. Change will not happen overnight. Together - business, politics and society - we need to rethink, be courageous and support those who are already working for a more just world.

For the organizationswith which we cooperate, establishing social justice is part of their daily work. And as just described, they depend on business enterprises also showing solidarity, supporting them through donations and demonstrating a willingness to change. In these times more than ever.

That's why we want to say again at the end: THANK YOU for your great work! And THANK YOU to all the companies that are already participating with their employees!

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