After nearly 100 days as CEO of ABB, I can truly say that the world is a different place to what it was when I started at the end of January before taking over as CEO on March 1. At the time, COVID-19 was already spreading rapidly, but we were not yet aware of just how great an impact the pandemic would have on the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people. Today, with lockdowns having been imposed across large parts of the world, including in all of the big economies, the pandemic is subsiding in many of the worst-affected countries. But others like the United States and Brazil are still seeing infections rise and the threat of a second wave remains a big concern.
As a global company with operations in more than 100 countries, we at ABB have been monitoring these developments throughout. With the easing of lockdowns in many places, our priority is to ensure that our 144,000 employees can continue to work safely. To that end, we are introducing staggered returns to the workplace and we have implemented protective and preventive measures at all of our premises, including physical distancing and good hygiene practices, to minimize the risk of infection. At present, travel is restricted to business-critical trips only, in line with government rules and restrictions.
While our top priority is health and safety, we are also doing everything in our power to continue to support our customers during these uncertain times. Because we are a supplier of products and solutions for critical infrastructure, we have largely been able to keep our operations running. We are also supporting our customers through connected operations, which enable remote monitoring of critical installations, and by making some of our software services available free to ensure uninterrupted power supplies to critical healthcare applications and to support commercial and industrial facilities in better managing their facilities.
As a global company, we take very seriously our responsibility to help society get through this crisis. Given that the current situation is not only a public health crisis, but increasingly a humanitarian one, we have supported the global COVID-19 effort of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with an initial donation of CHF 1 million. We also matched donations from our own employees, who to date have generously contributed more than CHF 386,000 to the ICRC.
For us, our responsibility does not end with the COVID-19 pandemic. Other challenges like the ongoing and growing unrest in the United States require our increased attention. As a globally active company, we are strongly rooted in our people and with employees in more than 100 nations worldwide, and encourage them to share their ideas and thoughts to contribute to ABB’s efforts. We welcome their individual differences and believe in diversity as a core asset to continuously become more collaborative and more dialogue-driven as a company. We believe that we can only overcome these challenges in one way – together.