FT Montage. LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, teaches the UK's school children physical education live via YouTube on March 23, 2020 from his home in London, England. Joe took to YouTube Live in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen school children around the UK sent home. To keep the nations children active Joe will be teaching PE lesson's every week day from 9AM this week. (Photo by The Body Coach via Getty Images)
Joe Wicks teaches physical education to children and their parents around the world via YouTube from his London home in March

To shed a light on some of the stellar, and not so stellar, corporate responses to the pandemic crisis, we asked the FT’s network of correspondents and columnists for examples of what they considered to be best and worst practice.

This list is intended not to be exhaustive but to illustrate a range of behaviour — from how companies have treated employees to the speed with which they have met society’s most important needs in lockdown.

Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) coalitionGlobalThe multinational OECD-sponsored coalition of global businesses, aimed at tackling inequality, has pledged more than €2bn in financial commitments and more than €750m in donations. Responses have ranged from Danone’s €250m of support for struggling smaller business partners to Accenture’s initiative to connect newly unemployed people with companies that are hiring.
Sainsbury and WM MorrisonUKSupermarket chains Sainbury’s and Morrisons responded swiftly to the development of the epidemic, providing extra help for older people and other vulnerable shoppers.
Sports DirectUKSports Direct initially sought to keep its stores open by categorising them as “essential”. Owner Mike Ashley has since apologised for an “ill-judged” response that prompted a backlash from customers and MPs.
US clothing industryUSThe US clothing industry reorganised supply chains in the course of 72 hours to switch production from T-shirts to masks for emergency workers.
AmazonUSAmazon has come under criticism over its treatment of employees. One vice-president, Tim Bray, resigned in protest at the firing of whistleblowers who raised warehouse employees’ concerns about Covid-19 risks.
Pharma and biotechGlobalMany companies have responded positively to coronavirus, with widespread pledges to make products available at cost (such as Johnson & Johnson’s fledgling vaccine), direct donations of money and resources (Bayer for example donated hydroxychloroquine for clinical trials) or with “tiered pricing” to make treatments more affordable in poorer countries.
BarbourUKBarbour, which normally makes waxed jackets, repurposed its production line in the north-east of England to make medical gowns free of charge for the National Health Service, answering a severe need as the pandemic escalated amid a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Wingrove Motor CompanyUKWingrove Motor Company, a car dealership, turned distribution premises over to PPE manufacturing, making fluid-resistant gowns available initially for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
L’OrealFranceL’Oreal, the world’s biggest cosmetics maker, undertook to pay small and medium-sized suppliers early to help them survive the crisis.
MaerskDenmarkMaersk, a global shipping company, changed its operations to work as an “air bridge” with the priority of supplying PPE for Denmark and later Sweden.
Kao CorpJapanThe Japanese personal care company this month said it had jointly developed an antibody that suppresses coronavirus infections, and which it hopes can be used in testing and treatments. The antibody was produced in partnership with Kitasato University and biotech start-up Epsilon Molecular Engineering. Kao also increased 20-fold production of products such as hand soaps and sanitisers.
GMO InternetJapanThe internet company directed almost all of its approximately 4,500 employees to stay home and work remotely in late January — more than two months ahead of the country’s declaration of emergency.
KrogerUSSupermarket chain Kroger announced last week that it would discontinue “hero pay” — the extra $2 an hour it introduced in April for essential workers — although the company’s sales for March were up by 30 per cent on last year.
The BodyCoachUKOnline fitness entrepreneur Joe Wicks started offering free exercise classes to children and their parents around the world. He met an immediate health need for millions of people around the world to keep active and cheerful as they were trapped at home in lockdown. He has made them laugh too — dressing up in silly costumes and asking quiz questions during his 30-minute YouTube classes.
Bet 365UK Bet365 announced in late March a multimillion pound support package for its 4,400-strong workforce, with guaranteed earnings for five months and no job losses until at least the end of August. Chief executive Denise Coates, the UK’s best-paid executive, has personally donated £10m to her local NHS trust.

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