What 2020 revealed about the core of my company
Over the past 20 years in his various roles at Johnson & Johnson and Rutgers University, Michael Bzdak has been committed to understanding and interpreting the role of business in society.
“The purpose of a business, in other words, is not to make a profit, full stop. It is to make a profit so that the business can do something more or better. That ‘something’ becomes the real justification for the business.” - Charles Handy
Looking back to GivingTuesday 2019, it was exciting to think about what the future would bring in 2020. The Business Roundtable statement on the purpose of the corporation, the anniversary of our IPO and another Credo anniversary (#76 on December 13) had Johnson & Johnson employees feeling fairly optimistic about entering a new decade. Little did we know that 2020 would bring some of the most challenging times of our personal and professional lives.
The COVID-19 outbreak created an unprecedented public health crisis affecting all facets of global society. As we’ve done during previous crises, this was a time for Johnson & Johnson to step up as a business and “do something more,” per Handy’s quote. At the core of our company is an amazing agility to respond to disasters of any kind. From developing an investigational COVID-19 vaccine to strengthening employee health and well-being policies and programs, our 132,000 employees showed up to take care of each other and our communities when they needed us most.
Many of my colleagues sought out opportunities to take time off to volunteer their critical skills and contribute to local efforts to combat COVID-19 and help rebuild the social fabric of their communities. Having already spent years building out a robust Talent for Good program portfolio, we had many existing opportunities to channel employees’ desire to give back in truly impactful ways. From remote Secondments creating new corporate partnership tools to virtual consulting marathons generating new marketing materials and resilience training for nurses, a record number of employees participated in Talent for Good programs in 2020. Their impact demonstrates the inherent value of ongoing employee-engagement programs that direct employees’ talents toward tried-and-true ways to tackle our communities’ greatest health challenges, whether we are living in or out of a pandemic.
As Black Americans experienced dramatically high mortality rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, it further exposed the health inequities that have long impacted communities of color. As result, our company announced Race to Health Equity, our bold response to help eradicate racial and social injustice by aiming to eliminate health inequities for people of color. This includes a $100 million dollar commitment to invest in and promote health equity and more opportunities for employees to engage in this work. This aspiration reflects our purpose to change the trajectory of health for humanity—an aspiration at the core of our company.
On this recent 77th anniversary of Our Credo, I continue to marvel at our company’s unwavering commitment to social purpose. Over the last nine months, employees at Johnson & Johnson have dedicated their time, skills and resources to achieve new ways to do good for the frontline health workers and communities we serve in an era of unprecedented challenges. As my colleague, Annet, reminded us, “While the pandemic may continue to limit in-person activities, we have no plans of slowing down our employee engagement opportunities—in fact we plan on getting even more creative as these opportunities are more important than ever.”
The pandemic underscores how important it is for influential companies like ours to step up and play our part in supporting our communities in strengthening global health systems. While financial commitments are important, our impact can be even greater when we couple it with policies and programs that enable our people to live their values. The pandemic has shined a spotlight on the unique and Credo-driven employees who are the core of this company. As Charles Handy might suggest, our company has found many ways to do something more... and better.
About the Johnson & Johnson ‘Talent for Good’ Employee Engagement Strategy
Our Talent for Good strategy aims to empower our 132,000 employees from across the globe to grow personally and professionally by applying their time, skills and resources to build healthier communities around the world. We are not looking at a specific employee target audience (or pay grade), but aspire and strive to activate all employees within the Company, no matter what level and/or stage they are in their career within Johnson & Johnson. We offer opportunities for all employees, from donating to fully immersive assignments with NGOs (non-government organizations) to shorter-term projects, so that they can play their part in creating positive and meaningful change by sharing and enhancing their skills while pursuing their passions.