So yet again our headlines are hit by a natural disaster of epic proportions in a country that can ill afford it. Catastrophic loss of life and infrastructure has hit the people that can cope with it the least. And as the appeals are launched for aid and cash, I can’t help but wonder if the right people are being asked to help? Don’t get me wrong – I, like most people, would happily donate cash, blankets, time, whatever was needed in a situation like this, but as our Facebook feeds, and televisions are plastered with ‘donate now’ messages, aid appeals and tragic stories, I do wonder what the big boys are doing to help – the world’s international corporations. While Gladys from Morecambe is probably donating a proportion of her pension and knitting blankets, and Daisy from Bognor is giving up her week’s pocket money at the behest of her well meaning parents, what is the corporate sector of this planet actually doing to help?
As I watched the news this morning and saw the tented camps springing up everywhere, the thought struck me – I wonder if those were donated by Eurohike or Blacks or Outwell or somebody? Camping is big business these days, so they must be doing quite well and be in a position to donate surplus stock, or end of line items. Do they? Do Lidl and Aldi ship out their ultra cheap blankets or source some to be shipped? And if transport is an issue, and I know it has been, does British Airways donate a plane, does BP or Shell or any of the big oil companies donate fuel, and do any of the global brands around the world, the Unilevers and the Pepsicos donate logistical assistance, because let’s face it, there’s not a jungle shack in the world that they can’t manage to ship their toiletries and sugary drinks to in normal situations. Maybe they do, and maybe they just don’t shout about it and milk the PR in the way that I might expect them to do so.
Maybe they do all have corporate responsibility budgets that they throw at these things, but I’m not sure. I am sure that they all donate cash to good causes, spend money and resources on genuinely beneficial programmes. But they usually do so with great fanfare, so that we all get a warm fuzzy feeling towards that company – they seldom do it out of the goodness of their hearts . Of course there are exceptions like the Gates Foundation – they talk about their work because their celebrity affords them a platform that may prompt more good to come of it – now that is a good reason to shout about it.
But what about when these massive disasters happen, when it’s all hands on deck, when Governments appeal to Governments, when every man on the street is asked to help – what are the big boys doing then? And this is a genuine question. So if you know the answer, please do tell. And then at least I can stop wondering, and being irritated by the fact that people seem to be missing a point here – this is life or death to these people. Just do something. Worry about the bill and the share holders later.