Actions Matter: 3 CEO’s Responses to Coronavirus That We Admire


During challenging times, employees at all levels look to the C-Suite for leadership and reassurance. But especially during a crisis such as the pandemic we are all facing, employees are looking more than ever to how they are being treated by top leaders.

The world at large also often also looks to the C-Suite to see how they handle big challenges. Are they leading with courage, or with fear? Are they able to adjust business practices to ensure success? Do they have strategic vision? What are the priorities? Are they considering wider issues?

Here are three CEOs that we think are really making a difference both for their company and for the greater good:

Marc Benioff, Salesforce

Billionaire and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has long been a forthright advocate for social and political issues, and the handling of COVID-19 has been no exception.

But regardless of how you feel about Beinoff’s political leanings, his business response to the outbreak has been inspirational.

In a Tweet, Benioff said, “Salesforce is pledging to its workforce Ohana not to conduct any significant lay offs over the next 90 days. We will continue to pay our hourly workers while our offices are closed. We encourage our Ohana to pay their own personal business datahourly workers like housekeepers & dog walkers.” He encouraged other CEOs to do the same, challenging them to a “90-day layoff pledge.”

What was different about Beinoff, is that he had a larger vision: He is focused on the overall economy in addition to the success of his business.

Salesforce itself donated $1 million to UCSF’s Covid-19 Respond Fund, $500,000 to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund and matched employee donations to a variety of other causes, all with Beinoff’s support. It isn’t just money though; the company has also donated medical masks, offered its Health Cloud product technology to emergency and medical teams for free.

Michael Dell, Dell Technologies

Like many CEOs these days, Dell has agreed to forgo his base salary. He will do so through Jan. 29, 2021, except what is needed for his contributions to the company’s health and welfare benefits plans.

But Dell didn’t stop there. He is funneling money to all kinds of worthy causes. Personally, he donated $100 million through the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in projects focused on COVID-19 relief. According to the foundation, they are committing $80 million in focused on four key areas: Health, nonprofits  and social enterprises; education; and livelihoods and small businesses. The remaining $20 million will go to the global COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard to identify potential treatments for COVID-19 and accelerate their development.

Dell Technologies has a longstanding culture of volunteerism and altruism outside the office and Dell has continued to encourage his employees to do what they can to help. Donations from the company include: $1 million to China for PPEs and IT Infrastructure, $3 million locally to help meet the greatest needs of front-line organizations working to treat and contain COVID-19, an employee match program up to $10,000 per employee to help various relief efforts worldwide, and much more, including sending top employees to work with local and state organizations on task forces and various foundations supporting COVID-19 response and people faced with hardships.

Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse

Service industries such as restaurants have taken a major hit during the pandemic, but Taylor is putting his employees before his bottom line.

Like others, Taylor has agreed to forgo both his base salary and bonus to pay Texas Roadhouse restaurant workers until Jan. 7, 2021. In order to continue having cash on hand to pay employees, the company also suspended its dividend in an effort to conserve cash during the pandemic.

woman working on laptopTaylor went further than cash, and allowed for early vacation use and paid health insurance premiums for our employees, two things that simply just make it easier for employees to manage their lives in these challenging times.

Taylor also donated $5 million to Andy’s Outreach, a Texas Roadhouse charitable fund “for employees to contribute to their co-workers who have been directly impacted by severe hardship, crisis or a catastrophic incident that was beyond their control,” to support workers who need it.

Many CEOs have been criticized as of late for their pandemic response, including those who have given up their salaries. But these three have shown an empathy and compassion that goes beyond the board room and deep into the communities, and sometimes the world, around them.

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About the Author

Jennifer L. Grybowski has been a journalist and writer for 20 years. She has written about business, government, politics, education, and culture. She holds a MFA from Southern New Hampshire University, and also writes fiction. Connect with her at https://jlgrybowski.journoportfolio.com