Purpose during a pandemic: Tuning into the new normal

Purpose during a pandemic: Tuning into the new normal

It is not news that we are in unprecedented times and faced with a new normal which continues to shift and change as the environment evolves.

In times of uncertainty, we are all undoubtedly choosing to prioritise the things that matter most to us, the health and safety of our loved ones and those we are responsible for.

At P&G, we believe in being a force for good and a force for growth and today more than ever we are single mindedly focused on how to protect our employees and serve our consumers and the communities in which we operate. Our goal is to use every chance we have - no matter how small - to support actions that will enable the health and safety of those around us to adapt as well as is possible to the future.

As I navigate this turbulent time there are two questions, I ask myself before I make any decisions.

  1. What if? During these uncertain times, there aren't any playbooks, or formulas to depend on. As we learn more and more about the pandemic and the all-encompassing impact it has had, it is doubly important to consider the consequences and outcomes of all actions; even ones that have no precedent. Answering 'what if?' again and again is overwhelming and isn't easy, but it can be if you are in touch with your employees, your consumers and the external environment.
  2. What matters? The second question is 'what matters?' There are many possible outcomes of any decision, but if you filter it with what truly matters, the road ahead will be clearer than when you started.

What matters for P&G are the key principles that have stood the test of time and are the guiding light for how we operate.

  1. Protecting the health and well-being of P&G people and their families: A key outcome of the pandemic is that our personal and professional worlds have integrated. We recognised early on that our employees are juggling their home responsibilities with homeschooling, household chores as well as work responsibilities. We realised that we would have to adapt quickly to enable the wellbeing of our employees and their families. First, we established 'no meeting zones' so that our people would have increased flexibility. Second, our employees' homes were not set up with the tools required to work from home full time; which is why we provided them IT tools, ergonomic furniture to work from home effectively. Last, we realised that both physical and mental wellbeing is critical, and we kicked off Mental Break Tuesdays - where the first half of the day is for employees to take the time to just switch off.
  2. Serving consumers with essential products:We are committed to manufacture and make our critically important cleaning, health and personal hygiene products available to serve the people of this region during these challenging times. We are making these products available following the highest safety and health standards and advice from government and medical authorities. Our employees in manufacturing plants are working round the clock to ensure that we can fulfil our commitment to consumers to serve them with products that they demand.
  3. Supporting organisations in the frontline and communities in need: We are stepping up as a force for goodand are providing support for communities, relief agencies under our 'Protect Our Heroes Covid-19 Relief Mission'. We will be expanding our manufacturing facilities to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks and Safeguard sanitisers for donation to organisations supporting frontline workers across Middle East & Africa. We are also donating our products like Always, Fairy, Gillette, Safeguard to frontline relief workers and communities in need across the region.So far, globally P&G's in-kind, product and monetary donations add up to tens of millions of dollars across more than 200 relief organisations, more than 30 brands in more than 30 countries.

In times of crisis, leadership with equanimity and agility is key. Being razor-focused on being a Force for Good will lead to growth for our consumers, our employees and our communities. As we steer through the world post Covid-19, one thing is for certain, this way of life represents a new normal, and the leadership that has been demonstrated by so many organisations in response to the crisis can't be a one-off reaction. It needs to be the new normal too.

- Omar Channawi is the CEO of P&G Middle East, East & West Africa and General Export Markets. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.