Social responsibility will be one of the pillars for creating a post-COVID society

Conclusions of the webinar DIRECT TALKS from Home 03

These are unprecedented times, and this unforgettable moment in the history of mankind sparks the solidarity that will underpin the new emerging world. Dressed in white, in support of the medical staff, CSR and corporate communications experts sent important messages from the third DIRECT TALKS from Home webinar dedicated to corporate social responsibility.

Webinar participants:

Miloš Paunović, CSR Specialist, Nordeus

Jovana Lukić, Director of SBB Foundation and PR Director, United Group

Milica Djokić, Communications Director, Lepota&Zdravlje and Vice President DSOJ

Mina Tadić, Corporate Communications & Corporate Affairs Director, Nectar

Milica Marković, Corporate Communications Manager, DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions

Home office – safe office

A proactive approach and good safeguards have given many companies the epithet of a good employer even in the times of the pandemic, as well as a smooth flow of operations.

Nordeus, which was the first to announce that it is switching to working from home, has also done work from home testing beforehand, with many employees even taking their office chairs and desks so they could arrange their home office.

The most important thing for us was internal communication, to keep that moment of collaboration. Since the gaming industry has not stopped, we now support people in how to adapt to the same amount of work from home,” Miloš Paunović from Nordeus said.

The priority of the United Group, which brings together a large number of companies across the region under its name, was the safety and health of all employees as well. “Our first task was to keep everyone safe, to switch to working from home if the work allows it, and to make all call centres work from home. For all employees in the field protective equipment is prepared, transportation is provided, disinfection of all premises is performed. The whole company has switched to online communication tools,” Jovana Lukić said.

A whole set of measures was adopted very quickly at Nectar in order to protect the health of employees in the first place, but also to enable smooth operations, and our coordination team looks at all the measures taken by governments in Serbia, Slovenia and North Macedonia and is adjusting its activities. Most of us work from home where multitasking comes to the fore and our colleagues in manufacturing, logistics and in the field are maximally protected everywhere, these are our heroes who contribute to the products being on the shelves and supply chain functioning steadily,” Mina Tadić said.

We shared our experiences about moving to remote mode quickly at previous web-based webinars, but my impression is, and I hope it will be confirmed by employee surveys, that even the fourth week of work from home at DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions is not recording a decline. Not only the focus on partners and good communication, but also the great pro-activeness of the entire management, as well as the good response of employees to initiatives implemented such as educational and psychological support workshops, webinars that we organise for external public,” Milica Marković said.

Companies and brands as a mainstay for citizens

Everything is giving its contribution in the fight against COVID-19 with what they have and at what they are the best. Assistance comes through concrete donations in money or goods, volunteer activities, public awareness campaigns on social distancing.

Even before the pandemic measures were launched, the Color Press Group launched a volunteer action with a call centre to assist the oldest fellow citizens in Novi Sad, with the Red Cross and city authorities.

The most important thing is to help the most vulnerable, at the moment those are our senior citizens, and this is the least we can do. We have always been sensitive to the local community and from there that initiative,” Milica Djokić said. According to her, data from the International Federation of the Periodical Press (IFPP) shows that media consumers are increasingly turning to the local community in search of some other news. “We currently have an infodemia, and in order to make it easier to select fake news, it is the responsibility of the media to direct themselves to the placement of some other information, as it will certainly lead to saturation of COVID-19 content,” Milica said.

“The uncertainty is raised to the maximum, it is not easy for the economy either, but brand communication is necessary,” said Mina Tadić from Nectar, the first regional company to change its logo in line with the current crisis, urging consumers to stay home in this symbolic but important way.

It is important for brands to be active, to be present, to do good deeds, to be present through shops and communication, to be support to people and to send a message that everything will end and that we are together in this crisis, that although we have been separated, we have never been closer.” According to her, Nectar has directed a donation of RSD 5 million to COVID-19 testing in Serbia, and also contributes to other markets by donating products for infectious clinics in North Macedonia, donating ethyl alcohol for the production of disinfectants in Slovenia and donating products for volunteer centres and temporary hospitals throughout Serbia.

Communication must not stop, it is the biggest danger for brands, said Milica Djokić from Color Press Group.

We have an example of the Italian Vogue that published a completely white cover page. For a lifestyle magazine, that’s more than unbelievable to have a blank page published on newsstands. The symbolism is strong and inspiring, and the message is that we need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, through re-birth, faith in the future and the paper we need to print, said Milica.

Corporate sector leads in terms of donations

So far, USD 6.7 billion in aid has been placed around the world, which is more money, then the total amount sent for all the hurricanes and fires that have plagued the world in recent years.

Although China is leading with Alibaba and Tencent Holdings as the largest donors, most donations now come from America, where the largest single donation was from Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter with USD 1 billion, followed by Google with USD 900 million, said Milica Marković. According to her, donations to Serbia are monitored by the organisation Catalyst Balkans, and according to available data, around EUR 6.5 million has been donated in Serbia, of which the corporate sector has contributed with 65%.

United Group has earmarked USD 3 million in assistance in cash and medical equipment for all countries in the region in which it operates, of which USD 1 million for Serbia.

We have been monitoring the situation and we want to help as much as possible, as always when there is a crisis. It was important for us to liaise with the governments of the countries, to adapt to the equipment market as the whole world tries to provide it and deliver it to their respective countries. It is important that the equipment arrives, and that medical staff can use it, Jovana Lukić said. According to her, the United Group also unlocked all the channels for which it received approval. “Movies, series, children’s programmes are being watched, and above all, information programme has jumped a lot. According to TV Beat measurements, N1 has jumped to the third place in viewership, followed by Nova S, and this is not the case only for Serbia, Jovana said.

Nordeus employees raised EUR 74,000 in aid, and then the founders doubled the amount, so Nordeus was able to help with EUR 150,000.

Our employees wanted to participate, and as a company, we immediately responded to their donation, and then we multiplied this by collaborating with UNICEF and the B92 Fund, inciting other companies to join and provide the necessary medical equipment,” said Miloš, adding that Nordeus in cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO) communicates with registered users, of whom there are 200 million, as well as those on social networks, of whom there are another 14 million, by daily releasing relevant information to them.

New CSR for new times

Making a move forward requires performance multiplication, a holistic approach to CSR and a united front of support,” Miloš Paunović said.

We need an even faster and smarter connection between all the stakeholders of the philanthropic and business community. The impact of CSR will continue to be big, as responsible operations will participate in the remodelling of not only communications but also of the operations of companies,” Milica Marković said.

It will be increasingly important to educate and support people in adapting to the new age, as well as communicating what the company is doing on the topic of sustainable and responsible operations,” Mina Tadić said.

Activism and purpose-driven communication will continue to be an important brand in the future. People want brands that are 100 percent behind their actions and words and who do good deeds and care about society first and foremost,” Jovana Lukić said.

Empathy gained in a pandemic will help honest brands. Talk about what you do, because every educated reader always recognises what is sincere and what goes from the heart for the benefit of all people, and what is done for selfish reasons,” Milica Djokić said.

See the full webinar here

The next Zoom webinar will be held

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